Level 3 evacuation notices were issued Sunday evening to residents within the 100-year floodplains of the Row River and Coast Fork of the Willamette as intense rainfall over the weekend increased fears of area flooding.
The Level 3 notices warn that danger is current or imminent and citizens should evacuate immediately.
“If you choose to ignore this advisement, you must understand that emergency services may not be available to assist you further,” the Lane County Sheriff’s Office wrote in a Facebook post. “DO NOT delay leaving to gather any belongings or make efforts to protect your home.”
Historic rates of water were released from Dorena Reservoir Sunday night to prevent overflow of the reservoir. By midnight, the reservoir was reportedly releasing 8,000 cubic feet per second (cfs), matching the amount released in Cottage Grove’s last major flood in 1996. As rainfall tapered through Monday, the release rate was slated to drop to 7,500 cfs, though concerns of snow melts had threatened to put that number at a record-breaking 10,000 cfs.
As of press time, river levels were expected to crest by Monday evening and gradually drop below flood stage over the next several days.
While Cottage Grove experienced some flooding in areas within city limits, heavier inundation occurred around the edges of the city and outlying areas.
Riverstone Mobile Home Park, a community of residents 55 or older, received an evacuation notice from South Lane County Fire and Rescue Sunday night as flooding crept through the park’s streets and up to homes. Community managers hurried to notify residents with the help of the fire department.
“We went door-to-door to every home,” said manager Lee Wege of the 125-unit park. “We’re extremely grateful to the fire department.”
Though most chose not to leave, Wege said about 20 residents sought shelter in the city or with relatives.
Shoreview Meadows Cooperative, a resident-run community along the Row River, received the Level 3 evacuation notice Sunday night.
“On the spaces that are bordering the river, it’s lapping at their doorstep,” said resident Janice Scanlon, who moved to Cottage Grove only a year ago.
In response to the notice, Scanlon helped organize an evacuation. She estimated about 65 or 70 residents were impacted or forced to evacuate their homes Sunday night, though they were given no instruction on where to go as shelters had not been fully established.
By 10 p.m. Sunday night, American Red Cross received notice and began setting up a shelter at the Cottage Grove Community Center, housing about 40 people through the night.
The shelter is slated to stay open as long as the need persists in the community.
“We’re open 24/7, so people just need to come in and register with us,” said Red Cross Shelter Supervisor Donda King. “When we open a shelter or an information center, we make sure people have a warm place to stay, a bed to lay on, food in their stomach, they’re warm and dry, and we provide as much information as we can get our hands on.”
Red Cross services include support staff for those requiring medical and mental health treatment.
The flooding makes for the second natural disaster to shake the Cottage Grove area in five weeks, prompting some renewed talk of emergency preparedness.
“After the snowstorm, we started talking about making a list of those who are medically vulnerable,” said Joi Adair, another resident of Shoreview Meadows Cooperative. “And so kind of putting together a list of who can help and who needs help.”
The cooperative had hoped to have evacuation routes and destinations plotted for the next disaster.
“But we didn’t get it done before this one,” Scanlon said.
For her part, Scanlon has found the past month eye-opening.
“Personally, I need a better go-kit,” Scanlon said. “If I’m going to live by a river, I need to be better prepared.”