Pendleton residents return to flood-damaged properties


Operations shifted from 'search and rescue' to 'damage assessment'

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Conditions in the flood-ravaged areas of Umatilla County are expected to improve Monday after several days of panic and uncertainty among residents.

Operations in the flood relief effort have begun shifting from “search and rescue” to “damage assessment,” according to county officials. Many people are expected to return to their properties Monday to evaluate any damage.

Though the water in many areas is receding quickly, officials said there are still several rural spaces that were severely damaged and are not yet accessible.

Harley Hauck, who lives at Riverview Mobile Estates, told KOIN 6 News the “destruction is catastrophic” but the community came together.

“Unbelievable how they came together and started cleaning up. People came from out of everywhere,” he said. “People don’t even live in this town and they showed up here.”

Here’s how to report damage

Homeowners, renters and businesses impacted by the flood should report damage to the county through the website listed below, by noon, Thursday, February 13, 2020.

Report flood damage in Umatilla County

Officials reminded residents to take time-stamped photos of the damage, report it to both the insurance company and Umatilla County, and to share this information with those who may not have internet access.

Two organizations are collecting donations for flood relief: Umatilla County/Pendleton region Community Action Plan of East Central Oregon, and Milton-Freewater Blue Mountain Community Foundation.

On Tuesday, Umatilla County crews will continue with debris and damage assessment and the inspection of the dam and levee.

Interstate 84

One westbound and one eastbound lane of Interstate 84 reopened Sunday evening, east of Interstate 82, but there is no timeline on the remaining lanes. All lanes had been closed since early Friday between exits 182 and 188, with a detour around the damaged section. The speed limit was set at 45 mph because of the remaining road damage and safety concerns for crew members still making repairs.

Oregon Route 204 remains closed between Andrew Prairie and Summertime Road.

The flood emergency

At least four more people were rescued on Sunday, according to the Oregon Emergency Management Office, bringing the total of rescues from flooded areas to 51. The Oregon Army National Guard has rescued 54 people, 10 dogs, one cat, and one rabbit so far, with another 26 people being rescued by SAR teams on land. The woman who was swept away from her property near Bar M Ranch remains as the only reported fatality.

Emergency evacuation notices were issued Friday to people living in the northeastern part of the county. Oregon Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency for Umatilla, Union and Wallowa counties where severe flooding, snowmelt, erosion, and landslides have pummeled the region.

ODOT drone footage of the area:

A website has been set up for homeowners, renters and businesses to report property damage, which will be used by the county to capture the impact of the flood as they request support from the state and federal levels.

The Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office says as long as the cool and dry weather holds, there are no new flood threats.

KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story and bring updates as they become available.

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