Flooding persists; another storm on the way; 2012 flood exceeds ’64

Randy's Riverview Market in Mapleton remained open during Thursday's flooding. (photo by Kady Sneddon)

Don’t get too comfortable…

Weather forecasters say you may get a brief respite from stormy weather today, but there’s more on the way.  A Flood Warning remains in effect for the Siuslaw River near Mapleton and a High Wind Warning will be in effect from two this afternoon through Four AM Saturday.

The National Weather Service says up to another two inches of rain could fall on Florence over the next 24-hours… even more in the Coast Range… and it will possibly be accompanied by 45 mile an hour winds from the south.  Wind gusts along the beach could reach 65 to 75 miles an hour with gust around 60 miles an hour in coastal communities.

The flood warning for the Siuslaw River continues.  The Red Cross has opened an evacuation center at the Mapleton Grange.

Highway 126 at Cushman was closed overnight due to high water, but reopened at five this morning.  Highway 38, 11 miles east of Reedsport will be closed for the foreseeable future because of a large sink hole.

Power outages in the area persist, but utility crews made a great deal of headway yesterday however.  As of last night Central Lincoln PUD reported they had restored power to all subdivisions in the Florence area and they were continuing to work on rural areas.  Crews were scheduled to continue working on a severely damaged section of lines on Canary Road, four miles east of Highway 101, until 11 last night.  Distribution Director Gary Nieborski said that stretch has been challenging.

Gary Nieborski– “Well in October we had a major catastrophe through there.  We put it all back up and everything we put back up and more came down.”

Crews were working in that area early yesterday had to pull out when high winds returned and more trees began falling.  Nieborski said if you’re still out, call the automated outage line at 866-484-3783.

Gary Nieborski– “We do get your phone call, we do get your caller ID, we’ll call you back.  You’re not being forgotten, there’s just a lot of phone call.”

That number again… 866-484-3783.

Yesterday’s flooding on the Siuslaw River is the fourth highest on record and only the fifth time since records have been kept that it reached the “Major Flood Stage” of 28 feet according to the National Weather Service.  Thursday’s crest of the Siuslaw River north of Mapleton was 28.07 feet… just 7-one-hundredths of a foot above the legendary 1964 flood.  The highest water on record was in February 1996 when the river crested at 30.2 inches.  Yesterday’s flooding was barely exceeded by two other floods… 28.45 feet in January of 1971 and 28.28 feet in January of 1974.

Flooding in outlying areas can present other risks than just the high water.  It can also lead to contaminated drinking water.  Oregon State Extension Agent Chrissy Lucas says well water contamination can damage parts of your well and your pump… plus can pose a health threat.  Ideally, well water should be tested following a flood to ensure that it’s safe, but if it must be used you need to boil it for one minute, then add one-eighth of a teaspoon of unscented bleach to the water.  Let it set for about 30 minutes before using it.  Lucas said problems with well water can continue for several months after flooding is over.