Hood's leftovers add projects to Port's list

Jan. 26, 2011


Debris piled up on the west end of the sandbar will pose a serious safety hazard in the summer if it’s not washed away or removed.

Floodwaters from last week's record rainfall have receded, leaving behind yet another task for the Port of Hood River to add to its long list of projects.

Where finely-groomed sand once greeted the feet of beachgoers on the west end of the Hood River Delta, now lies a littered graveyard of sticks and branches, stumps, logs and even a tangle of several whole trees, ripped from their roots and washed down the raging Hood River.

By the morning of Jan. 17, an array of wood from the Hood River at flood-stage had made its way around the north end of the delta and into an eddy between the Hook and the Event Site. Strong west winds that afternoon - into the 40 mph range -then pushed a lot of that material onto the windward side of the sandbar.

Except for Hood River's healthy population of fetch-crazed canines, the debris is a clear hazard for recreation on the sandbar; in particular kiteboarders who utilize nearly the entire shoreline during busy summer months.

"There is a significant amount of debris down there right now," said Michael McElwee, Port of Hood River executive director. "At this point it's a question of how much will be left after the late spring."

River levels at the delta typically fluctuate fairly drastically in the spring, when runoff from tributaries increases the flow and volume of the river significantly. Since nearly all the debris floated around the sandbar and was blown to where it is now, it's likely that most of it will float and be carried away when the river is raised and lowered a few times.

"We've planned aerial photos of the delta to get a better picture of what changes have occurred," McElwee said.

From the looks of the area, the delta has progressed slightly farther west in front of the Event Site and is a little larger on the east side in front of the Marina, where smaller debris has also come to rest. McElwee said the Port is watching how the situation progresses and will work with local groups to organize cleanup parties if needed.

After flooding in 2006, the Columbia Gorge Kiteboarding Association worked with the Port to clear large amounts of debris that would have otherwise posed unreasonable safety hazards for beach and river users.

If needed, cleanup this year should be significantly easier than in 2006, when a massive landslide at the base of Eliot Glacier triggered a fast-moving lahar that swept through the entire Hood River Valley in a few hours and deposited about 26 acres of sand, rocks and rubble at the mouth of the river.

Volunteers literally dug for hours at stumps and logs embedded in the sand before they could be moved. This year's flood may have added a little sediment to the delta, but for the most part new debris is resting on the surface of the sand.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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