Friday, January 20, 2012

Flooding in the Valley

Yesterday morning we woke up to find this outside our window.

Yes, that is the creek that runs on the far side of the lot next to ours.  It overran its banks during the night and over took our street!  Since our house is on a hump, we luckily stayed dry, but we were a little worried there for a while.  I walked across the field to see the extent of the flooding and saw that the water level of the creek was about 4-5 feet higher than normal. 

Our neighbors who sit at a lower elevation than us have sandbagged their houses as you can see from the photo. 

I also walked around to the back of our lot to check the level of the second creek (the one that runs behind our fence) and saw that the water level was about twice as high as ususal, but it had not yet escaped its banks.  The nutria (an invasive water rodent that lives in the streams) were having a hay day and were swimming back and forth up the stream while I watched. 

We were able to get out of our street to take Big-Bug to school, but the district called families halfway through the day and asked everyone to come get their children due to the rising water levels (I had already picked Big-Bug up at that time since he is in the am kindergarten class.)  When I drove up to the school for pick up the school grounds were (relatively) dry, but the storm drains were erupting like fountains in the intersections! It was pretty crazy.

Around our town, other families have not been as lucky.  An entire town to the south east of us was evacuated yesterday as water levels rose.  A town to the east of us has a lot of water over their roadways (although I read it is receding today) and our downtown area has been expriencing a lot of flooding.  The city has been updating a google map documenting road closures and there were 35+ noted in town last night. All of this flooding has been the result of heavy rain, runoff and overfilled creek beds.  Today it is forecasted to rain another inch and the Willamette River is predicted to breach its banks and reach 100 year flood levels by 4pm today.  This will result in a lot more flooding throughout down town and the surrounding areas.  A 100 year flood map was published this morning in the newpaper and I was nervous to see a few close friends of mine live in areas that are expected to be impacted by the Willamette today. 

On a side note -something I have been seeing a lot of on the news sites is a misunderstanding of the term 100 year flood.  A lot of people seem to think it means a level of flooding that has not occured for 100 years.  This term actually refers to a flood with a water level that only has a 1% chance of being equalled or exceeded in a single year.  So if you are reading this, please give the police officers and the reporters a break - they actually DO know what they are talking about ;-)  (see, my natural resources degree DOES pay off every now and then! haha)

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