Pendleton residents on high alert after weekend rain, water let out of McKay Reservoir

PENDLETON, Ore. — A wet weekend in northeast Oregon has caused creek and river levels to rise, including the Pendleton area.

“There’s no doubt about it, it’s been a wet spring,” said Umatilla County Commissioner Dan Dorran.

Dorran said the rain caused levels to rise at McKay Reservoir in Pendleton.

“A quick rise in a lot of the streams and the creeks throughout the county and some anxious moments for sure for all of the residents,” Dorran said.

He’s alluding to the 2020 floods that affected homes and livelihoods throughout Umatilla County as the world entered a global pandemic.

“It brings back a lot of memories for a lot of these people especially along McKay Creek in Pendleton; that was just a devastating flood for those folks,” he said.

Residents who live along McKay Creek were placed under level one advisory for evacuation on Sunday evening and other creek and river levels have continued to rise as the Bureau of Reclamation continued to let water out of McKay Reservoir.

“They make a calculation on how much water to release from the dam and the in flows — even though the numbers may not mean a lot normal inflows has been running somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 to 350 CFS, yesterday evening it got close to being 5000 CFS,” Dorran said.

Sometimes the decision is made in a short time span, Dorran said that means they only have a couple of hours to notify nearby residents. The Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team was a part of the effort to knock on doors and let residents know what was going on.

“The City of Pendleton did an amazing job of making sure all the residents were aware of what was going on ,the comm was great — and then the county and the city teamed up on a sandbagging area,” Dorran said.

As the rain settled on Monday, residents still face ever-changing creek conditions and washed out roads throughout the county an on the Reservation.

“Truly more messy than devastating but it closes a lot of roads,” Dorran said they’re constantly monitoring levels throughout the day.

They’re also keeping their eyes on rain forecasted later in the week.

“The grounds gonna be even more saturated so I don’t think we’re into the summer mode yet, it’s got a lot of people worried.”

Commissioner Dorran said the best way to know what’s going on is by checking the city’s Facebook page.

City of Pendleton

Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation

Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office

You can also monitor the McKay Reservoir Outflow here.