Could flooding in Umatilla County happen again? Experts monitoring snow melt

Umatilla County Emergency Director Thomas Roberts said he, along with the NWS have been monitoring the Blue Mountains

UMATILLA, Ore. – It’s been over a year since the Umatilla River flooded throughout many towns, causing damage to infrastructure and homes. To this day, there are still signs of the flood and people are working on recovery.

Umatilla County Emergency Director Thomas Roberts said it was a combination of rain melting snow in the Blue Mountains and an unusual amount of rain in the area, that lead to the flooding.

“We just didn’t have the time to really react things were moving and changing faster than we could move. The conditions changed within hours on us,” Roberts said.

RELATED: Photos show major flooding in Umatilla County

Luckily, this year, it’s been a different story.

“We are anticipating so far a very slow melt, and a little bit of a warming trend going on up in the mountains but at night it’s gonna drop down and refreeze,” he explained.

Roberts, along with the National Weather Service, have been constantly meeting and monitoring conditions, and so far, so good, but that doesn’t mean residents in the surrounding area should let their guards down.

Roberts said his office has been inundated with calls from people, wondering after last week’s snowfall, could flooding happen again?

“And that’s a good thing, because that shows that people are watching, they’re mindful of the possibility now and they understand what the ramifications can be if they’re not ready for those events,” Roberts said.

The Emergency Director encourages everyone, regardless of where you live, to have an emergency preparedness plan. As well as being aware of any hazards that could affect where you live, like floods, wildfires, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornados or hurricanes.

A LOOK BACK: Flooding prompts residents in Umatilla, Pendleton to evacuate

“Have a kit ready to deal with when the power or the water goes off. A communications plan in place; an idea of where you’re going to go,” Roberts said.

The Office of Emergency Management in Oregon has a page where individuals and businesses can learn more about preparing for an emergency situation, here.

As people still recover from the floods, Roberts said his office and several community stakeholders will do their best to keep residents informed of any changes.

“We’re still working very hard to provide a level of protection for folks,” Roberts said.

It’s also a great idea to sign up for emergency alerts, regardless of your location. In Umatilla County, you can sign up for Alert Sense, here. In Tri-Cities, Benton and Franklin Counties have Code Red as their alert system.