Vanport, OR Dike Break and Flood, May 1948 - Vanport Destroyed
River Breaks Dalles Dike; Vanport City is Destroyed
PORTLAND, Ore., May 31. -- (UP) -- The Pacific Northwest's worst flood in history smashed a levee and poured into the town of Dalles, Ore, today after wiping out Vanport, a war-built city of 19,000, with an unknown number of dead.
At Washington, President Truman declared the flood area in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho a disaster region, and arranged for the use of surplus war goods for relief and rehabilitation.
Refugees from Vanport, a low-lying suburb of Portland made up chiefly of wartime housing, filled Red Cross shelters to overflowing today. Authorities were unable to estimate the death toll, because high waste still covered the city.
At Dalles, an inland port city of 8,000 persons situated 90 miles upstream on the raging Columbia River, the levee broke at 6:15 a.m. and muddy water surged into the lower section of the town.
Hundreds of volunteers answered a general alarm to wall off the downtown area with sandbags. The downtown section had been threatened earlier by flood waters which burst through a break in the levee.
At Portland, police broadcast a general alarm for volunteers when dikes began seeping badly northeast of the metropolitan area.
At 4:15 p.m. Sunday, under sunny skies, the Columbia smashed through a dike and poured a raging torrent of water into Vanport.
The city was destroyed and its 19,000 men, women and children fled in panic.
Some swam to safety. Others ran a few yards ahead of the wall of water. The luckier people had time to escape in automobiles.