PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As large portions of Western Oregon remain under flood watch Thursday, local transportation bureaus are asking the public to do their part to help clear storm drains and prevent flooding.
“We work all the time to try and keep the storm drains clear,” said Don Hamilton, spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Transportation. “Sometimes we can keep up with it, but we’ve had an awful lot of rain around the Portland area in the last week or two.”
Washington County officials announced 334th Avenue is closed between Tualatin Valley Highway and dead end due to flooding.
Bates Road between Old Highway 47 and Patton Valley Road is also closed due to flooding, officials said.
Hamilton told KOIN 6 News recent showers have caused an increase in high water problems on roads within the greater Portland area. He said ODOT crews are out and doing all they can to meet rising demands and resolve potentially dangerous road conditions.
“This is a real problem. When we get a lot of rain, like we’ve been seeing in the area, high water closes the roads, and we don’t want that to happen,” Hamilton explained.
According to Hamilton, Highway 101 South of Seaside is a major trouble spot for flooding. He said as of Thursday afternoon, ODOT is already seeing unsafe conditions there that may force a closure.
Meanwhile, a portion of OR-47 at the intersection with Nehalem Highway has collapsed due to flooding. Avoid the area.
“We don’t want to have to close these major roads like Highway 101,” Hamilton said. “But if high water gets there and it’s not safe, we ware going to shut that road down.”
“One of the main challenges is that there are more than 50,000 storm drains in Portland and just several 100 maintenance workers on our staff,” Rivera explained. “So we’re vastly outnumbered and we need the public’s help.”
PBOT encourages community members to monitor the drains on their own streets, before, during, and after storms to help the city reduce flooding and dangerous road conditions.
A sentiment which was echoed by Don Hamilton who said, “Everybody on their own streets needs to clear the storm drains to make sure that the streets don’t flood.”
According to Rivera, most storm drain clogs can be solved by local neighbors removing leaves, plastic, garbage, and other debris from the top of the grate.
The bureau has asked the public to leave extreme cases and drains that are flooding from within the grate to be resolved by their crews.