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Umatilla County Residents Assess Damage After Flooding

By Donald Orr (OPB)
Portland, Ore. Feb. 12, 2020 2:45 p.m.

As floodwaters continue to recede in northeastern Oregon, residents and Umatilla County officials are assessing the damage, ranging from washed-out roads, bridges and homes.


Umatilla County is urging homeowners, renters and businesses affected by the floods to report economic and agricultural damages to the county by noon Thursday, Feb. 13. According to county officials, that information will be used to request additional financial support from the state and federal government.

“It’s extremely important that our community members assist each other in getting damage reports submitted,” Umatilla County Undersheriff Jim Littlefield said in a press release. “If your neighbor doesn’t have internet access, or has a hard time getting around, walk over there with your mobile phone. Take some photos and use the website to walk them through the process.”


Reporting from The East Oregonian documents the devastation in the region as people return to their homes. The Oregon Department of Land and Conservation will train staff from the Umatilla County Planning Departments to assess the extent of structural damage, and county crews will inspect dams and levies in Pendleton and Milton-Freewater. Pendleton city officials proposed to have the state front the money for the levee repairs, with the city later reimbursing them with funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The county’s transition from search and rescue to damage assessment started on Monday. Officials report that the Oregon Army National Guard rescued 54 people, 10 dogs, one cat and one rabbit via helicopter. Janet Tobkin Conley, who was previously reported missing Saturday, died when high water swept through her property. She was 62.

High water and road damage closed Interstate 84 in both directions on Friday between exits 182 and 188 — crews with the Oregon Department of Transportation were able to open one lane in each direction late Sunday.

“We’ve got some roads, a couple, that are actually almost washed out. We’ve got a lot of damage to bridges, and we’ve got a lot of people that have been kind of stranded, having trouble getting away from their homes if they’re cut off,” said Don Hamilton with ODOT.

“But the floodwaters are starting to drop down — we’re seeing some improvement in here. So for all the issues that we’ve been having, things are starting to improve.”

Rural roads, I-84 and Highway 204 are still being assessed and repaired. ODOT said there is no timeline for reopening the second east- and westbound lanes on I-84.

The county will continue to post updates on the Umatilla County Sheriff's Office's Facebook page.