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Eagle Creek: River residents vigilant during record rainfall

I.V. Anderson and Sheri Smith have a close view of the Clackamas River from their home in Eagle Creek’s Paradise Park neighborhood.

During last week’s record rainstorm, Anderson, Smith and their three roommates checked the river every hour. The Eagle Creek area received more than 5 inches of rain during the height of the storm last week.

“She’s roaring,” Smith said of the river. “You can’t always trust her.”

On Dec. 7 the Estacada Rural Fire District warned residents of the Paradise Park and Twin Island Park neighborhoods to be ready for possible evacuation. But by mid-week the river had stabilized three feet below the minor flood stage of 20 feet, and the warning was lifted at the end of the week.

Portland General Electric reported that a windstorm knocked out power to 1,700 customers in the Estacada and Eagle Creek areas from 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Dec 8-9 and that 3,200 customers lost power from 4-8 a.m. Dec. 9.

“If it gets dark because of the power outages, that’s frightening,” said Anderson, who moved into their house last year and is no stranger to floods.

“I had to move furniture for another storm right when I moved in here, so I’ve been through the panic before,” Anderson said.

This time around Anderson said she’s calmer.

“I’m not lackadaisical about it, but now I know how to be prepared if anything were to happen,” she said.

Both Smith and Anderson believe it’s important to be vigilant during times like these.

“I watch the water line obsessively,” Smith said. “I’ve been keeping my guard up.”

A neighbor, Penny Camp, remembers a time when the river demanded more than just vigilance. The massive flood of 1996 caused Camp and other residents to evacuate.

“That was scary,” Camp said. “It was such a big flood — there was so much water and huge logs were coming down the river.”

Long term residents of Paradise Park in particular know how to react in these types of situations.

“I’ll check online to see what the alerts are,” said Darlynn Hofferber, who has lived in Paradise Park since 1981. “And I keep a close eye on the water.”

Camp doesn’t often worry about the river.

“I’ve been here for so long, to an extent I can almost sense what it will do,” she said. “I love the river and all of its moods.”

Though she’s developed a familiarity with the river, Camp is well aware of its strength.

“Right now, it has a very powerful look,” she said. “It’s kind of like it’s saying, ‘behave, or I’ll come get you.”

Camp has never considered moving because of the river - in fact, it’s the reason she stays in Paradise Park.

“For me, the best part is watching those various moods and phases,” she said.

Hofferber has a similar outlook.

“The view makes it worth it,” she said. “There’s always going to be a risk of some kind of natural disaster no matter where you live.”

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