Subscribe for 17¢ / day

The following article originally ran in the Tuesday, Jan. 15, 1974, edition of the Corvallis Gazette-Times.

Several families in Corvallis and Benton County were evacuated from their homes early today as heavy rain combined with runoff from last weekend's freeze to produce widespread flooding.

More rain and flood conditions are forecast.

Scores of roads were closed by high water, stalling motorists and school buses.

Eight schools in Benton and Linn counties were closed.

Spillover from hurricane-force winds that lashed the Oregon coast pushed trees over two county roads and severed power to Soap Creek area residents.

Benton County Sheriff John T. Dolan said no fatalities or injuries have been reported.

More than 2½ inches of rain deluged Corvallis during the 24-hour period ending at 8 a.m. today. The Willamette River rose from 9.1 feet to 12.9 feet at the Van Buren Avenue Bridge in just 12 hours. The Corvallis Fire Department said it was the fastest rise in memory.

At 9:30 a.m. the river was at 14 feet and still rising. It was expected to reach 18½ feet Wednesday and 21 feet Thursday.

Flood stage is 20 feet.

The River Forecast Center in Portland predicted flood conditions for Harrisburg, Corvallis and Albany by Wednesday. Another 3 to 4 inches of rain was expected by then.

At a river height of 20 feet, water washes across Highway 34 east of Corvallis, according to James Blodgett, Benton County emergency services director. He said the river must reach 26 feet to spill over the west bank.

The Marys River has reached flood stage and is expected to flood portions of Highway 99W south of Corvallis tonight.

Eleven persons, including a family with two children, were evacuated by Corvallis firemen from a one-story apartment building on SW Morris Avenue.

They were taken to a fire station where they changed into dry clothes and were fed breakfast. Arrangements were being made to house them temporarily with friends.

"My son woke me up about 4:30 this morning and said, 'Daddy, there's water on the floor,'" said Brent Stinnett, one of the evacuees. "There was six inches of water in the apartment."

Stinnett said all he and his family managed to take with them was a change of clothes.

Sheriff's deputies evacuated two families from the Alpine areas. Ten inches of water flooded one house.

Larry Wren, Benton road foreman, summed up the situation elsewhere in the county in one word: "Terrible."

He said road crews and sheriff's deputies worked through the night posting signs on flooded roads.

He warned of dangerous driving conditions caused by partial washouts.

Cherry Creek Road near Monroe is washed out, he reported.

"There was more water this time, faster than we ever had before," Wren said.

Road crews removed fallen trees from Soap Creek and Oak Creek roads. Consumers Power said 15 to 20 Soap Creek-area residents were without electricity for about two hours last night when a falling tree cut power lines.

Major rural roads closed by water included Greenberry, Bellfountain and Beaver Creek, Grove Street, 53rd Street, portions of 35th Street, Harrison Boulevard and Brooklane Drive, and most streets in the Village Green area in northwest Corvallis were impassable.

The Linn-Benton Intermediate Education District office reported these school closures: South and West Albany high schools, Monroe elementary and high schools, Denny School in Lebanon, Knox Butte School in Albany, and Hoover and Inavale elementary schools in the Corvallis School District.

Water from Dixon Creek flowed into Hoover School, the IED reported.

The heavy rainfall created a nightmare for city maintenance crews called out at midnight to put up high-water signs and man pumps.

"It's just more water than we can handle," said Hal Samuelson, assistant maintenance supervisor.

Overloaded storm sewers backed up elsewhere in the city.

Samuelson said one of the hardest-hit areas is Village Green.

"There's at least a foot of water in the streets there," he said.

Maintenance crews also stacked sandbags around a pump station at NW 16th Street and Beca Avenue.

Samuelson said more trouble is expected tonight in south Corvallis as flooding on the Marys River worsens.

Sheriff's deputies removed voting machines from the basement of the county courthouse as water began to collect.

Elsewhere in western Oregon, morning commuters heading into Portland were stalled by a foot and a half of water on major arterials.

Sheriff's deputies and civil defense workers sandbagged homes in the flood-prone Butternut Creek region and families were urged to evacuate. Only one did. The rest worked feverishly to block rising water and save their homes.

Mudslides in Portland's West Hills blocked roads, ripped trees up by their roots and caused massive traffic tieups.

Winds up to 85 miles per hour knocked down trees and power lines in Tillamook on the north coast.

The Mt. Hebo Air Force Weather Station in the coastal mountains north of Lincoln City recorded a 110-mph gust early today.

Rising creeks, compounded by high tide at 6:29 a.m., flooded roads in Eddyville and Toledo in Lincoln County.

The Georgia-Pacific plant in Toledo reported 85-mph winds ripped the roof off a huge chip storage facility and high water flooded the plant's entrance and access road.

Al Bustrin, district manager of Pacific Power and Light Co., in north Lincoln County, said "just about every area we serve has had outages. The wind is blowing lines down all over the place. We have all our crews working and we've brought in men from Albany, Corvallis and Dallas. We really don't know yet just how extensive the damage is."

Inland, Josephine and Douglas counties appeared hardest-hit by the storm.

The Rogue River crested 3 feet over flood stage at 8 a.m. and was reported rising a foot an hour in Grants Pass.

Several mobile homes near the town of Rogue River were evacuated.

Most schools in the county were closed because flooded roads blocked school buses.

A massive slide on Interstate 5 in the Siskiyou Mountains 10 miles north of California blocked the highway with mountains of mud and house-sized boulders.

State crews blasted a narrow truck lane through the debris by mid-morning but most passenger cars were detoured onto Old Highway 99.

Subscribe to Breaking News

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.