The difference: Sweat, preparation and luck spared city from floodwaters

By JASON COX Of the Keizertimes When the river and Keizer creeks start to rise, comparisons to floods of yore inevitably float to the surface. The most common frame of reference was the 1996 floods. An orderly evacuation preceded flooding in McNary Estates and a surprise rise in Labish Creek in the Country Glen and Hidden Creek neighborhoods. Labish would rise again the next winter, flooding several homes. Rain levels now and in 1996 were fairly similar. So what spared Keizer from the floodwaters this time? A combination of preparation, perspiration and plain luck. Mother Nature lent a hand, with well-timed breaks in the rain. Downpours tended to be extremely localized, unlike the widespread rains of 1996. The snow pack didn’t compare to 1996, when as much as a foot of the white stuff sat below Detroit Dam, and thus rivers were already at an elevated state when rain drenched the valley for days and days in February 1996. But preparation showed positive results in 1996, and lessons learned since then may well have spared homes along local waterways from further damage. The Willamette River reaches major flood stage at 32 feet; in 1996 it rose to 35 feet. In 1996, much of west Keizer was saved from the river’s wrath by an earthen dike standing where the river wall is now – starting at Cummings Lane north to...

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