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icon of a floodwaters impacting a house

The flood risk area along the Columbia includes residential neighborhoods and important employment areas, including the Portland International Airport. Major floods could cost lives, threaten our drinking water and environment, and affect thousands of jobs. Our current flood-control infrastructure does not meet the basic federal standards established after Hurricane Katrina.


icon of levee holding back flood waters

Raising levees and improving floodwalls, pumps, pipes, and drains in the most vulnerable areas can protect lives, homes, and businesses. Restoring wetlands and habitat can increase resilience and provide natural protection from flooding. Congress approved nearly $100 million for flood safety projects in Multnomah County. This may be unlocked for a limited period with a local match.


The Columbia is one of the world’s largest, most powerful rivers. A system of flood-control infrastructure–hidden in plain sight–protects the Portland region from devastating floods. But the climate is changing and extreme weather threatens vulnerable communities, water quality, and the natural environment. The system is over 100 years old and requires upgrades.

Columbia River History


On Memorial Day in 1948, the western end of the levee system collapsed under pressure from the Columbia River. This flooded the City of Vanport, killing 15 people, leaving scores more injured, and displacing over 18,000 people in less than an hour. Our region has suffered six major floods in the last 125 years. Experts predict that flooding will now occur with more frequency and intensity due extreme weather in a changing climate. No major improvements have been made to our flood-control infrastructure since the Vanport Flood, and our system no longer meets federal standards. Unless we act now, it’s just a question of time before it happens again.

1948 Vanport Flood Aerial showing homes underwater

Recent Global Flood Events



“The entire Metro region, both Portland and East County alike, benefits from opportunities along the Columbia River, and also shares the growing risks. This is a great opportunity to enhance fish and wildlife habitat and water quality for our growing region. By meeting federal standards, we can also keep this area safe and affordable.”

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- Metro Councilor Ashton Simpson, Representing District 1

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