ZIGZAG, Ore. – Crews have begun a project to re-route the Sandy River in an effort to restore a busy road used by people living near Zigzag that was recently washed out by flooding.
The project could take a couple weeks, authorities said, and in the meantime, residents can only get around the flooded section of Lolo Pass Road on foot or with all-terrain vehicles.
Power was restored to the area Thursday so steady progress was being made for the 200-some residents stranded when the storm hit last weekend.
The raging river also destroyed at least three homes and damaged others, as well as several vehicles.
Authorities said the Sandy River had shifted about 25 feet off its normal path. The rising river eventually crested above 21 feet on Monday, the fifth-highest level every recorded, taking out a 300-yard section of Lolo Pass Road.
Witness video: Raging river takes out trees & road
“There are trees everywhere it’s like a bomb went off… I don’t know how they’re going to fix it,” said area resident Becca Niday as she headed out on foot.
County Declares Emergency
Early in the week, Clackamas County commissioners declared an emergency for the region.
County spokesman Tim Heider said damage estimates were still coming in. The county would need to report $1.2 million in damage to qualify for state help to repair public lands and infrastructure. The declaration also allows permission for authorities to order evacuations if necessary.
Nearby, flooding forced the evacuation of at least 50 homes in the Welches and Rhododendron areas Sunday night and Monday morning. Residents there were scrambling to pile up sandbags to try and protect their homes as the Sandy River quickly rose.
People who live along the river said they could hear the roaring river building up in power, even from inside their homes. “You can see the water churning. You can hear it in the buildings. It’s clunking and thumping around. It’s bad, it’s really bad,” one concerned homeowner told KGW.
Elsewhere, emergency officials advised residents of six homes in south Tillamook County to evacuate.
The Oregon geology department said people living in or driving through steep areas should be wary of potential landslides and debris flows.