Sellwood didnt escape Dec. 3rd Johnson Creek flooding

by: Rita A. Leonard, Neighbors marveled at the height of floodwaters at Sellwood’s Johnson Creek Park on the extremely rainy Monday, December 3rd. The heavy rain still falling when this photo was taken imparts a surreal, speckled quality.

The remains of two different tropical typhoons drenched Oregon and Washington on the second and third of December. Rural Vernonia, northwest of Portland, was slammed by flash flooding after 11 inches of rain fell; Tillamook and other coastal towns were hammered with wind and rain, and suffered power and communications failures and isolation. Interstate 5 was closed for a week by high water near Centralia and Chehalis, Washington.

In the Portland metro, Johnson Creek overflowed its banks and caused major problems east of 82nd along Foster Road. While it may have seemed Inner Southeast was unscathed - and, by comparison with some of the other areas mentioned, it was - there nonetheless was some flooding along Johnson Creek, as well as along its short tributary Crystal Springs Creek, in Inner Southeast Portland - where THE BEE measured 4.99 inches of rain, just on Sunday and Monday.

On Monday, December 3rd, neighbors visited Sellwood's Johnson Creek Park to see the flood waters. The site along S.E. 21st Avenue between Sherrett and Marion

Streets, where the waters of Crystal Springs Creek join with those of Johnson Creek.

The arched bridge that crosses Crystal Springs Creek is the only one remaining at the park, although visitors can still see the remains of another bridge that used to cross Johnson Creek. This latter bridge washed away so many times, it was finally abandoned.

During the rainy season, the roiling, muddy current from Johnson Creek can froth up whitecaps, and spread out across the central 'island' as well as other in low spots in the park. Following the early December storms, the arched bridge was completely isolated, with water lapping at both ends. Debris from upstream gathered underneath, as well as in the limbs of nearby trees and streamside brush.Visitors marveled at the height of floodwaters across the former play area, which also left two picnic tables marooned as recreation platforms for local waterfowl. Nearby, at S.E. 23rd and Sherrett, City workers placed gravel and sandbags to shore up a bend in Johnson Creek which threatened to overflow its banks onto the roadway.

The awesome vistas of watery expanse and white-capped rapids drew murmurs of wonder, as many visitors and dog-walkers took photos of this rare and impressive example of the occasionally-extreme force of nature, even in a major city.