Umatilla County, Oregon state and local city officials know people have questions following last weekend’s historic flooding, and they’ve been working in tandem to predict the answers needed.
Spokeswoman Jodi Florence of the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office said state public information officers were brought in to handle the outpouring of news releases and media questions.
The result is the Umatilla Joint Flood Information Center, which has been pumping information out on a regular basis.
Chris Ingersoll, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Military in typical circumstances, is part of that effort.
“We’re moving from rescue to recovery. We’re assessing damage, and folks are coming back to homes,” Ingersoll said Monday.
Thursday’s combination of heavy rain and warm temperatures that melted snow pounded many areas of Umatilla County, Ingersoll said. Oregon Army National Guard used helicopters to rescue 54 people, 10 dogs, one cat and one rabbit stranded by the flood in Umatilla County.
Monday’s weather brought cooler temperatures and no rain, adding no new threats of flooding, Ingersoll said in a release.
The search and rescue operation is turning into an assessment process, and county crews are evaluating roads and damage to county equipment, he said.
Oregon’s Department of Transportation is continuing to work on damaged sections of Interstate 84 throughout the area, and crews will continue to inspect and repair roads and structures. The same is happening to Walla Walla River and Mill Creek roads.
As of Monday, Highway 204 going to Tollgate and beyond remained closed between Andes Prairie and Summerville Road, officials said.
Milton-Freewater City Manager Linda Hall said her staff is working with county officials and developing plans for the recovery stage of the disaster.
She and others are meeting daily via teleconference to trade notes and discuss moving forward, Hall said today.
Officials are working to create a one-stop shop for flood assistance and reporting, she said.
The Walla Walla River levee has substantial damage along Walla Walla River Road’s South Fork, Hall said, noting many homes, barns and properties were lost to flood waters.
Milton-Freewater’s public infrastructures are being assessed by city crews, and the presumption is the Water Control District’s engineer will assess the levee, as was the case during the flood stage, Hall said.
A number of private contractors worked with Water Control District officials to supply the city with fill rock, trucks, excavators, backhoes and more to save residents from what could have been far worse consequences of the flood, the city manager said.
Weston city officials said they are also working with state and county flood crews.
City Hall employee Sheila Jasperson said this morning the town was not nearly as impacted by flooding as other areas, although she couldn’t speak to the situation on Weston Mountain.
In town, clean up is getting started and the city will provide dumpsters for wood and organic flood debris.
More dumpsters will be made available for other kinds of garbage, a news release said.
Weston residents are urged to photograph and make videos of flood damage and submit to PineCreekFlood@outlook.com, with details and an address.
As well, people are urged to call the city at 541-566-3313 to be placed on a list for possible Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance to homeowners and renters.
City officials said they will be updating residents on public property cleanup.