Pendleton homeowner deals with aftermath of flooding that devastated his property

PENDLETON, Ore. — Brent Hall and his wife and two young daughters have only lived in their Pendleton home along the Umatilla River for about a year and a half. They never expected to be dealing with the aftermath of devastating floods that hit the region in early February.

“It is in the flood plain, and I was concerned about that so I talked to everybody who had lived here for the past 50 years,” said Hall. “They always said you don’t need to worry about water getting in the house because it’s so high up.”

On Wednesday, February 5, Hall’s neighbor told him that water levels were forecast for about 8 feet, which is one foot above flood level. By the next morning, the water level had surpassed that.

Hall said he started setting up pumps, gathering sandbags and helping his neighbor build a berm around his shop, as the water continued to quickly rise.

About 3 p.m. on that Thursday, they saw water coming through the door of their home.

“That’s when I knew I had to get out,” he said.

The Hall family evacuated their home, and they weren’t able to return until Saturday morning, Feb. 8. They came home to standing water in the house and mud everywhere. In their shop, the water level had reached about five feet. There were also five foot deep holes left in the driveway.

Weeks later, the Halls are still living in a home they are renting from a friend as they work on restoring their property as much as they can.

On Thursday of this week, volunteers from Samaritan’s Purse, a disaster relief organization, arrived to help clean and repair. Some volunteers traveled thousands of miles to get there.

“When people lose their homes, it is a traumatic experience,” said Todd Taylor, manager of U.S. disaster relief for Samaritan’s  Purse. “It gives us a unique opportunity to be able to come alongside that homeowner for just a few days – sometimes just a few hours – and show them that people from across the nation really and truly care for them enough to come sleep on a cot, or sleep on the floor of a church and work for them for absolutely nothing.”

Hall said they’re monitoring mold levels in the house, and they’re going to have to eventually take out electrical and floors. Volunteers have already helped fill the holes in the driveway so they can drive through their property. Others have donated to replace the hay that was lost in the flood, and they’ve been able to build a temporary fenced area for their two cows.

“My wife and I moved here thinking this is where we wanted to raise our daughters and give them an outdoor experience, and retire here eventually, but now we have about half the land we used to have and the rest is covered with rock,” said Hall. “We’re going to rebuild but how long we stay here, I don’t know, but who would buy it. “