Residents, City & County Prepare for Floods

March 30, 2012

By Heather Turner

BENTON COUNTY, Ore. — A flood advisory is in effect all over the mid-Valley.  Corvallis and Benton County leaders say they expect river and creek levels either come close to, or hit, the same levels as during the January floods.

With the rain still coming down, this is the fifth wettest March on record for Benton County.

The Willamette River is quickly filling, and Mary’s River is expected to crest above flood stage Saturday afternoon.

“I’ve worked for the public works department for about 20 years now and I can’t remember a situation where we’ve been this late in March dealing with this,” said Corvallis Interim Public Works Director Mary Steckel.

Even though late flooding isn’t common, that doesn’t mean they’re not prepared.  Friday, city and county leaders met to devise an emergency plan.

“Looking for vulnerable populations, people that might have a hard time moving around on their own, also animals or whatnot that we might see that are perhaps not being taken care of,” said Benton County Emergency Services Manager Mary King.

Some of those precautions are already in place, sand piles, and high water signs fill trouble areas.

“Six inches of water is all it takes to carry a car away so most of our fatalities are from drivers of automobiles that just don’t heed that warning,” King said.

The flood warnings are all too familiar for those living off Conifer Boulevard.  Their streets were completely flooded back in January.

“There was so much water it was coming over the hood of my car, while I was trying to drive, I lost all of my steering and everything,” said Corvallis Resident Melissa Nickerson.

Many are already preparing for what might come.

“Pick up stuff, put it on the couch, clean out the hall closet and maybe like unplug the TV and things like that,” said Corvallis Resident Colleen Ross.

“You know I definitely think I’m going to run into town and make sure I’ve got all of the supplies that I need,” Nickerson said.

Emergency responders recommend finding a safe, dry place to stay, and not driving.  They also recommend buying flashlights because they say the peak of the flooding is expected to happen sometime overnight.

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