Flood warning issued for Columbia River in Vancouver

Rivers reaching flood stage throughout the region

Detours were put in place after NW Gordon Road in North Plains flooded on March 15, 2017. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A flood warning went into effect on Thursday morning for the Columbia River in Vancouver.

For the third straight Wednesday day, steady and sometimes heavy rain poured down, causing more snow to melt and increasing the risk of flooding. Thursday brought some relief.

The PDX Weather App

There are other rivers in the KOIN 6 News viewing area that may possibly pass flood stage.

Flooded roads along SR-503 just past NE 87th in Vancouvers have drivers and businesses dealing with deep water, as much as 10 inches deep in some spots.

Business owner Margie Hunter and KOIN 6 News reporter Trevor Ault stand along a flooded spot on SR-503 near NE 8th in Vancouver, March 15, 2017 (KOIN)
Business owner Margie Hunter and KOIN 6 News reporter Trevor Ault stand along a flooded spot on SR-503 near NE 8th in Vancouver, March 15, 2017 (KOIN)

“It’s been worse. It’s gone all the way over the median,” business owner Margie Hunter said. “The whole street was just like a river.”

She said she reached out to the state of Washington for help because of the ongoing issues.

“There’s too much water for the system, that’s what they told me when I called because people started complaining about trying to get in here,” she said.

Residents said when Vancouver gets 2 or 3 days of rain the drainage system is overrun.

While the state has put in some effort to keep the system clear, Hunter said their efforts are having a hard time keeping up.

“Two or three weeks ago they came and cleaned out all the drains all the way up,” she told KOIN 6 News as she watched cars spray large amounts of flood water as they drove by.

People who live along Thompson Road near Mill Plain and Fourth Plain Boulevards have one road in and out of their neighborhood, but they say it’s been almost impassible due to flooding.

Neighbor Ashley Stuber said her check engine light came on as she drove through the high water. She says this happens every time is rains for several days in a row.

Flooding in a Vancouver neighborhood between Fourth Plain Blvd. and Mill Plain Blvd. on March 15, 2017. (KOIN)
Flooding in a Vancouver neighborhood between Fourth Plain Blvd. and Mill Plain Blvd. on March 15, 2017. (KOIN)

The Washington Department of Transportation said they are aware of the flooding problem which has been made worse by record rainfall. WSDOT is in the early stages of putting together a long-term solution — which will take both funding and time.

This flooding comes after a particularly rough winter for a number of Washington counties.

On Wednesday, Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency for 28 counties, among them Clark and Columbia.

Inslee released the following statement:

“The colder, wetter and stormier weather this winter has heavily impacted many communities throughout the state. The impacts have been significant, from snow removal and damage to public facilities to transportation interruptions and the opening of shelters to assist those whose power was out or their homes damaged. Staff from appropriate state agencies are working with local officials to quantify the impacts and damages so we can determine whether to request federal assistance.”

The proclamation will help the Washington state Department of Transportation to provide emergency repairs for roads and request federal aid. Road damage is estimated to be more than $10 million.

– KOIN 6 News reporters Eileen Park and Trevor Ault reported from Vancouver

Water flooded Clackamette Park in Oregon City and closed the Clackamette RV Park Clackamette Park is at the convergence of the Clackamas and Willamette rivers.

The Clackamas River near Oregon City is 6.23 feet below minor flood stage and the Willamette River at Oregon City is 3.63 feet below minor flood stage.

A hydrologist with the National Weather Service told KOIN 6 News he doesn’t have a good reason why Clakamette Park has flooded. His best guess is Columbia River is high and the water is backing up and having a ripple effect on the Willamette and Clackamas rivers.

Jonathan Waverley, the parks operation manager for Oregon City, said when the river reaches 21 feet, they shut down the park and evacuate everybody.

“NOAA is projecting that the river level will be coming a little over 23 feet and so we’ve had the electricity turned off, the water is turned off and obviously the gates are locked,” Waverley told KOIN 6 News.

They’ve had to evacuate the park earlier this year so “we’re getting pretty used to the protocol and procedures.”

Park hosts Cindy and Al Breitling said that until the river settles down with the melting snow and rain it’s safer if the park stays closed.

“When it’s sunny out, we’re pretty busy,” Cindy said. “Sunday we had…hundreds and hundreds of people come in. The skate park was full, all the kids and everybody.”

But, she said, “right now it’s all underwater so everything is shut down.”

“The Clackamas (River) is coming up extremely fast,” Al said. “Whatever the city tells us to do, that’s what we do.”

KOIN 6 News reporter Amy Frazier reported from Oregon City

What’s next

Thursday will be the nicest day of the week with partly cloudy skies and highs in the mid-50s. There may be a stray shower, but most of us are dry Thursday.

St. Patrick’s Day — Friday — starts cloudy but dry. By afternoon, rain is on the increase. Wet weather continues into Saturday. We’ll usher in the spring season with dry conditions Sunday and Monday.

The KOIN 6 News Weather Center has your latest forecast