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Monday morning's headlines

It will be a rainy and windy Monday around Western Washington, with high temperatures in the low 50's.  Rain is in the forecast all this week. 

Making headlines around the Northwest this morning:

  • Mudslides Affect Commute
  • Northwest Relief Workers to Japan
  • Obama's Education Secretary Here, Virtually

Rails and Roads Covered in Mud

Sounder rail lines, Amtrak routes and at least one major highway are blocked by mudslides this morning. Sunday's heavy rains caused at least three separate slides over Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks: two north of Seattle, and one in southwest Washington near Vancouver. 

The Seattle Times reports Sounder Northline commutes between Everett and Seattleare canceled today, and passengers will be offered bus service, after a mudslide yesterday:

The mudslide, 2 feet deep and 20 feet long, happened at 10:50 a.m. Sunday about 13 miles north of Seattle, near Edmonds, said BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas. As a rule, passenger trains are always halted for 48 hours after a slide on the rail lines as a safety precaution.

Amtrak service to Vancouver, B.C. is affected. Passengers will be bused north through Tuesday afternoon. 

In Mason County, Highway 101 is covered by mud near Eldon. A truck jack-knifed at the scene early this morning. No word yet on when that slide will be cleared.


Northwest First Responders to Japan

Local nurses and firefighters are heading to devastated areas of northeast Japan to lend their hands to disaster relief work. KING-TV's Joe Fryer reports the skilled volunteers with EMPACT Northwest are responding to the current crisis in the same way they did with the Haiti quake and Hurricane Katrina:

"By our profession, we're helpers," said Armadeus Davidson, a firefighter and paramedic in Gig Harbor. "We have a hard time sitting around, seeing these events unfold and not being a part of it."

Davidson and others are scheduled to leave today.

In Seattle, KING reports the American Red Cross is also training volunteers for mobile kitchen units.  They're learning how to make 12-to 15,000 meals a day. 

There are many international relief agenciesworking to ease pain and suffering in the wake of the disastrous quake and tsunami, and The Associated Press provides a list of some of those efforts.


U.S. Education Secretary Visits Olympia by Video

Arne Duncan will help Gov. Chris Gregoire make the case for her education consolidation plans today. Gregoire wants to create the state's own version of Duncan, an education secretary appointed by the governor, and eliminate the elected Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).

Duncan will participate by video, making remarks and also answering questions at the noon forum in Senate Hearing Room Four of the Cherburg Building.

According to The News Tribune, Gregoire's idea has already passed the Senate, and an alternate version is being consdered in the state House of Reprsentatives.