Floods, landslides and sinkholes replace ice


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s finally warming up after last week’s snow storm, and melting ice and heavy overnight rain has caused some problem on metro area roads.

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Early Tuesday morning, a landslide closed Highway 99W at Bull Mountain Road. About 80 yards of debris was in the roadway, the Oregon Department of Transportation said. ODOT’s Don Hamilton told KOIN 6 News the lane in that area will remain closed through the Wednesday morning commute.

“Landslide season is upon us and it will be here all the way through April,” said PSU geology professor Scott Burns.

Burns says this was a double whammy.

“We’ve just had a huge deluge of rainfall on top of the snow,” Burns said. “The good news is if you have like 8 to 10 hours of no rainfall, the soils drain rapidly.”

Another landslide was reported Tuesday morning on US 30 EB at Mill Road east of Cornelius Pass. Hamilton said one EB lane will likely be closed through Tuesday.

“We’re going to be looking to find if there are any other signs up problems up there. Are there any new rock slides, is there any streaming water up there. We’ve had a lot of water, we’ve had a freeze-thaw. This is all a recipe for slides,” Hamilton said.

On SE 49th Avenue and SE Powell Boulevard, a 16-feet deep, 4-feet wide sinkhole developed. Officials say it was likely caused by water seeping into the ground. The hole was triggered by a garbage truck.

“We’re still investigating what the real cause is,” Nick Naval, a construction manager with the City of Portland tells KOIN 6 News. “We’re assessing the degree of the collapse,” he said.

Crews are working to figure out exactly what caused it so they can make the appropriate repairs. The will work overnight to get the repairs done in the next few days. The Bureau of Environment Services said the sewer is not interrupted.

The sewer pipes on that street were due to be replaced as part of a project that started in May. The Powell Sewer Repair project is repairing and replacing pipes in SE Portland, many of which are between 60 and 104 years old.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said David Chan, who lives near the sinkhole.

The National Weather Service issued a flood watch that lasted until 4 p.m. Tuesday. Coastal communities, rivers and urban areas were warned to expect possible flooding.

Johnson Creek in SE Portland is one of the areas in Portland that often floods with heavy rainfall.

Residents who live nearby were prepared for that possibility, with sandbags ready to go.

“You wouldn’t purchase a home on Johnson Creek unless you did your due diligence and really found out what was involved with that,” resident Phiamma Elias said. “Appropriate flood insurance, which we’ve done. I’ve been on my property since 1999 for all these years I’ve watched Johnson Creek overflow south to north on our property.”

PBOT did not expect streets to be flooded by the creek, but thought it could affect low areas along the creek where there are homeless camps and private property.

The flood risk tapered Tuesday afternoon.

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