PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – The heavy rain and flooding blamed for three deaths in the Pacific Northwest also washed out a highway on the east side of Mount Hood, and it may take $20 million to reopen it, Oregon highway officials said.

The White River flowed over Oregon 35 on Monday and Tuesday, making cuts 20 feet deep through the highway and sending boulders and trees rolling down the mountainside, said Bill Barnhart, Oregon Department of Transportation manager.

Two creeks also wiped out a section of the highway to the north.

The storms that hit Oregon and Washington state damaged hundreds of homes.

and broke rainfall records, authorities said. At least three deaths were blamed on the storm: two men in vehicles swept into a Washington river and a 78-year-old woman found along the Oregon coast, where another woman was missing.

On Mount Hood, as much as a million cubic yards of rock, mud and sand covered a quarter-mile stretch of road, the main highway connecting U.S. 26 from Government Camp to Hood River.

“None of us at ODOT or the U.S. Forest Service have ever seen it this bad,” Barnhart said. “Our biggest concern right now is the safety of our workers.”

There were no estimates when the highway would reopen. The same highway washed out in the summer of 2005.

AP-ES-11-09-06 1247EST

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