Friday, January 20, 2012

The Flood of 2012

When I was a teenager and living in Corvallis, we had a huge flood. The '96 flood. I remember walking through a huge field and a mobile home park with my mom and aunt, to check on my aunt and my grandma's houses. The water was up to my hips. I was so terrified. Their places were both pretty much fine in the end, but the flooding was massive.

Yesterday was scary, and reminiscent of the '96 flood. I hadn't given it much thought until late afternoon, when I was driving home from the library. I turned to go up a side street and saw the Pringle Community Center:

Usually Mill Creek is about 1,000 yards to the left. This community center had flooded and been ruined during the '96 flood, and the new center was built to FEMA flood standards. I took a two day floodplain development class there, and the building was a really awesome example of what to do. While this picture looks catastrophic, once they clean out the silt and wash the place, it'll be about as good as new. It's really impressive.

When I got home, friendly neighbors were clearing the storm drain at the corner next to my house:

I wasn't very worried at that point. I've seen that corner, which is quite low, get about that full, and usually the people that run the Buddhist Temple on the other side of the street come and clear it out.

It got worse. A lot worse. I looked out the window about two hours later, and my car was getting swamped. I don't have a driveway, and park on the street. I realized that I wouldn't be able to get to the driver's door without getting extremely wet. The water was almost up to the curb. As I went out to the car to move it, and go get some supplies, I was talking to a guy walking by, who got stranded by his bus about 8 blocks from his house. I climbed into my car from the passenger side, and gave him a ride home.

When I got home the next time, I realized there was no way in hell I could park on my street. My house is a designated floodway, which means that my street as well as some of the streets around it have been engineered to flood, and that it would keep the houses from flooding. I parked my car a block away, on the other side of the large park across from my house, and had to walk through water more than ankle deep to get home. That was utterly terrifying.

By the time I went to bed, there was no street, only a river. The grass median between the street and sidewalk was inundated. I went to sleep prepared to get up and leave first thing in the morning. I had a plan. I'd try to go get some sandbags and put them in front of the doors, grab the cats, my computer and some clothes and head to Corvallis.

Yet, when I woke up this morning....the water was gone! I still don't quite understand it. I guess Mill Creek crested before the Willamette, which still hasn't (and is currently at 29', and still going strong. Average for this time of year is usually around 14'). As I drove around today, most roads were open. It's freaky to see houses less than a block from me surrounded by a fortress of sandbags. Neighborhoods not too far from here were swamped. Most of those houses had basements, too, which made it worse. I'm very fortunate that I don't have a basement, and I don't have heating ducts in the crawl space, either.

The town of Turner, about 5 miles from Salem, was totally flooded. I feel terrible for everyone there. I can't imagine my house flooding, swamping everything. Two people died in Albany (20 minutes south of here) when water flooded and swept away their car. Floods are scary. I'm exhausted today, just from being so stressed yesterday.

A coworker, K, the gal I've been training recently, sent me two pictures today:

This is the west landing at the BV. I don't have a picture to show you what it usually looks like, but usually you drive up to the stop sign, then go down a steep ramp at least 30 feet before you get to the boat. That picture blows my mind.

And here's one from the WL ferry. I actually wonder if houses may have been flooded in the small community down there, since it's very flat.

Usually once you get to that sign, you still have to travel several hundred feet before you get to the boat.

Crazy stuff. Super duper crazy. I'm glad I'm safe and dry, and so are my friends and family.


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  2. Floods can turn towns into rivers, and that's how powerful they are. Anyway, just keep your head up, there's a rainbow always after the flood. :) Mill Creek has a long story about floods. The first ever flood was in 1931 (thousands of dollars were spent for its restoration), if I'm not mistaken. While the estimated damage for the 1996 Mill Creek flood you've mentioned above was 8.2 million dollars - wow, can you imagine that, Jenny.

    Annalise Johnnie

  3. With such heavy flooding in your area, it may take a long time for the residents to renovate their houses, especially those with basements. Those spots are susceptible to molds so they need to clean their house thoroughly to keep free from allergy and other mold-related illnesses. One thing they can do is dry the area and remove objects and materials that are already infested by molds like tiles and carpets.

  4. Err..the 96 flood really came back, ei. :O Seems like Turner town also turned into a ghost town. If you're house is badly damaged, renovating is a must in the aftermath of the flood. :(

    Tyrone Nold