It’s been 50 years since Oregon and California residents experienced “The Flood of the Century,” as one NewsOK article calls the Christmas Flood of 1964. Where there are now cracked concrete slabs and broken bridges, there once stood vibrant communities that were destroyed within a matter of days by widespread flooding. Homes were filled with nearly 20 feet of water, and every single river in California and Oregon was overflowing with both melting snow and heavy rains.
Now, half a century later, Oregon residents are faced with more flooding problems — albeit not as serious as the flood in 1964. The Western Coast of the U.S. was recently hit pretty hard with inclement weather from the Pineapple Express tropical storm, but the National Weather Service is now saying that another storm could hit the region again, just in time for Christmas.
Flood warnings and winter storm warnings have already been issued throughout California and Oregon, and according to CNN forecasters, up to eight inches of rain on the coastlines of both states could trigger flash flooding and mudslides.
Oregon weather authorities are particularly concerned, CNN notes, because of the widespread forest fires that ravaged the state’s infrastructure earlier in 2014 and burned down acres of vegetation. With fewer obstructions (both manmade and natural) to restrict and redirect excess water, it’s more likely that roads and buildings will be flooded — and that’s exactly what has started happening.
The major concern at this point, however, is that many residents in Oregon and California will be unable to travel for the holidays. The region’s concrete retaining walls and dams, built by specialized engineers after the flood of 1964, have already begun leaking and cracking. Unlike modern homes in the area, which are often protected by high-quality epoxy and polyurethane sealants, the retaining walls that protect major highways throughout Oregon and Northern California seem to be less effective at preventing flooding.
According to reports on December 21st, U.S. Highway 101 (running through Oregon) had already sunk down by six inches due to water pressure; other roads throughout the state managed to collect over three feet of flood water and were closed on December 21st as well, and residents appear to be waiting (still) for announcements regarding the possible reopening of these roads.