WHAT'S THE RISK?
The flood risk area along the Columbia includes residential neighborhoods and important employment areas, including the Portland International Airport. Major floods could cost lives, pollute our drinking water and environment, and affect thousands of jobs. Our current flood-control infrastructure does not meet federal standards, but with modest improvements we can protect lives, homes, and businesses in the Portland region.
WHAT'S THE SOLUTION?
It’s not rocket science. To meet federal standards, we need to raise vulnerable sections of flood-protection walls along the Columbia and update aging equipment. These simple, cost-effective engineering solutions will save millions of dollars in disaster recovery. Restoring floodplains and habitat can also provide natural protection from flooding. With a relatively small investment from our region, we can leverage almost $100 million in federal funding for needed improvements.
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 nearly 100 years old and requires upgrades. Fortunately, there is a simple cost-effective solution.
Columbia River History
IT'S HAPPENED BEFORE
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 at least 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.