PENDLETON, Oregon – Hundreds of volunteers assisted residents on the banks of McKay Creek in Pendleton in a battle against rising water as releases from the McKay Reservoir grew. People filled sandbags and brought food to the hungry workers.
Pendleton Fire & Ambulance were assisted by multiple agencies and individuals as they moved residents of Willowbrook Convalescent Center to Elizabethan Manor. Police officers and firefighters went door-to-door to keep residents informed and help with proper sandbagging techniques.
The American Red Cross opened an emergency shelter. The Pendleton Round-up Association and Happy Canyon Company allowed livestock that had to be evacuated board for free at their grounds.
Currently, the Umatilla County Emergency Operations Center reports that flows from the reservoir are being maintained at 2,500 cubic feet per second. City, county, and state officials will meet this morning at 8:30 a.m. to re-evaluate the situation. Meanwhile, the National Weather Service flood warning for McKay Creek is due to expire at 10:30 a.m. today. It also cautions that high water levels can persist for the next several days. Those flows from McKay Creek into the Umatilla River are impacting the level of the river from south Pendleton through to the Columbia River.
An incident management team from the Oregon Fire Marshal’s Office arrived in Pendleton yesterday. Also on Sunday, there was no call for volunteers and the Pendleton Police Department and Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office was out doing traffic control, as people were driving in to try to get a look at the floods.
Some roads in the area are closed to access for anyone but residents. They include Kirk Extension (around the Struve Bridge via the Southwest 44th Bypass), Southwest 41st Street, Southwest 39th Street, and Southwest Perkins Avenue near Pendleton Community Park.
At last report, McKay Creek Elementary School was planning on being open. The school itself was not impacted by the flood. The situation will be assessed periodically, and if that plan changes it will be announced on the Pendleton School District website as well as My Columbia Basin’s Facebook page.
High water also impacted other roads in Umatilla County. There is a road closure at River Road off of Cayuse Road across from Wilson Road. Water is across the roadway at the bottom of Nolan Grade and motorists are urged to avoid the area until the water recedes.
A privately-owned bridge near the Pendleton Wastewater Treatment Plant across from McKay Creek has been compromised. The bridge is being monitored around the clock and a mitigation plan is in place to ensure that the plant will not be affected if that bridge fails.
A footbridge near Umatilla High School in Umatilla has been washed out and is blocked off. Meanwhile, crews from Pendleton Public Works continue to monitor the condition of Struve Bridge near Community Park.
The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation Department of Natural Resources Swift Water Rescue Team is on standby in case a water rescue is needed. Numerous other agencies from throughout the region have helped including the Oregon Department of Transportation, Umatilla County Fire District No. 1, East Umatilla County Rural Fire District, Oregon State Police, Kayak Transit, and Mid-Columbia Bus. In addition to local residents, volunteers from as far as Walla Walla turned out to help with the sandbagging operation. Emergency officials issued thanks to all those who have helped.
The public information officers for the operations center plan to issue news releases today at approximately 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. My Columbia Basin will quickly pass more information along as it is released.