Portland, OR Dike Break and Flood, May 1948
Col. O. E. Walsh of the Portland corps of engineers ordered complete evacuation fo the Columbia's 43 drainage districts except for personnel actively engaged in flood work.
Dikes Threatened at Clatskanie
Another danger point was at Clatskanie on the lower Columbia. High tides were forcing water over dikes there and company L of the Oregon national guard was ordered from Astoria to man the Clatskanic dikes.
The Interstate bridge was closed on the Vancouver side to prevent traffic to the flooded southern shore.
Water from the Vanport flood swept a mine north to the cloverleaf intersection of Denver and Union avenues and the south end of the bridge, whirled around an underpass and headed east to join other flood currents.
R. H. Baldock, state highway engineer, said no one can tell just where the dikes would hold.
"We thought Denver avenue would hold an it didn't," he said. "We've got to play it safe and can't risk the lives of men in this flood trap."
He said more than 1000 men were fighting the flood since the water got out of hand Sunday with bursting of the Smith lake railway fill behind Vanport.
To the complete amazement of all authorities, not a single body had been reported sighted or recovered by Monday night in the Vanport wreckage.
The sudden tragedy to the war-built housing project echoed across the nation, and in Washington President Truman declared Vanport and other Northwest flood sections "disaster areas" and ordered use of surplus war property for relief and rehabilitation.
Red Cross officials took cognizance of the disaster on a national scale and allocated $250,000 for relief.
Damage in Vanport alone was estimated by officials at $21,490,000.
There were more than 100 hospital cases of injured persons, many of them with broken bones, but none critically hurt.
Elmer Fisher, weather bureau forecaster, predicted the crest of the flood in Portland and Vancouver after 6 p.m. Tuesday night.
Monday night the Willamette was 29.5 feet and is expected to reach 30.5 feet at the Tuesday crest. Columbia crests are about the same.
The crest will top the ground-level seawall along Portland's west waterfront, but is expected to be retained by the 4-foot concrete panel atop the wall.
Oregonian, Portland, OR 1 Jun 1948