Bill Tooley, who lives near Johnson Creek with his sister, spent part of Super Bowl Sunday planning for a flood at his residence.
They’ve got 100 sandbags in the garage deployable at a moment’s notice, ready to keep creek water from flooding into their home.
“It comes from 2 neighbors up. It goes in their yard, our yard and her yard kind of just goes down,” said Tooley.
The good news is water did not flood Tooley’s home. Nor did it ruin his Super Bowl, and it’s in part because of work the City of Portland has done to prevent frequent Johnson Creek flooding.
Seventy acres of land sitting near Southeast 106th Avenue and Southeast Foster Road may just look like a big open field, but it’s actually a key part of Portland’s flood mitigation effort along Johnson Creek.
“Anecdotally we’ve seen that we’ve really reduced the extent and duration of flooding,” said Kate Carone with Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services.
Carone said the big floodplain is capable of storing 120-acre-feet of water and has helped reduce frequent flooding downstream. When creek water rises above a certain level at Southeast 106th Avenue and Southeast Foster Road, it veers out of the creek channel and into the field.
“This bathtub is holding that water until the creek subsides again. [Then it’ll] slowly get released back into the creek over time instead of flooding everything,” said Carone.
The city has measured success of the project instead of flooding every other year. Johnson Creek only floods every 6 to 8 years.
Nothing can stop the creek from flooding for good, but because of recent efforts in creating a large floodplain, damaging floods are becoming less frequent and less of a danger to people living downstream.