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Flood threat looms: agencies move snow, prep sandbags


With so much snow accumulating in Central Oregon due to the recent storms, and a forecast of rain and warmer temperatures, regional officials, including ODOT, warned everyone Friday to be prepared for potential flooding in coming days.

“Everyone in Central Oregon should be preparing for the next weather event,” said ODOT Regional Manager Bob Bryant. “Melting snow will turn into water, lots of water, and that water will likely lead to flooding, and we need to begin preparing for that now.”

ODOT has already begun to anticipate flooding by removing as much snow as possible from US20 in Bend, along Thi rd Street and Greenwood Avenue. This will help crews identify where the street drains are located and open them up for the coming thaw.

Beyond that, Bryant is advising business operators and homeowners to identify the potential for flooding and prepare for it by clearing drains or obtaining sandbags to prevent flooding where possible.

“People need to act now,” Bryant said, “because with rising temperatures and rain in the forecast, the potential for highway and local flooding is on the rise.”

Also, Central Oregon government agencies that have been operating a hotline for public information said late Friday they are transitioning calls from that hotline to 211.

The hotline number 541-322-6330 is no longer in service, and officials urge you to instead please call 211. Dispatchers at 211 have been prepared with necessary information.

The purpose of the 211 essential community services phone number is to help residents get questions answered about issues related to this storm. This phone line will be available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through January 20.

If it’s an emergency please call 911. If it’s a non-emergency but you need police or fire assistance, call (541) 693-6911.

Agencies around the region are collecting sandbag materials that will become available for the public that needs them, if the situation develops, said city of Bend Communications Director Anne Aurand.

Agencies are planning staging areas and hours of operation, she said, expecting to release those details on Monday.

In the meantime, she advised, there are other ways people can work to protect their properties, even without sandbags.

Alternatives include straw bales and plastic sheeting, or garbage bags filled with dirt. Plastic sheeting and garbage bags can be secured to openings around doorways to keep water from getting in, and tires and plastic sheeting can be used to make a dam.

The city also listed some preparation tips, such as removing snow from the foundation of your home, and making sure there’s clear drainage to catch basins or drainage areas on your property. They advised to e careful not to dig drainage into your neighbors’ property.

Here’s the local governments’ joint news release on “The Big Melt “

With record breaking snow buildup on the ground and warmer temperatures and rain forecasted for Monday and Tuesday, it’s time to prepare for a big melt-off.

Rain on snow increases the possibility of flooding when storm drains and inlets are covered with snow, ice or slush. If the water can’t get into the storm drain, it can result in flooding.

The majority of our storm water system relies on infiltrating water to the ground. A very small section of town drains to the river. When we have large rain and snow melt events, the ground becomes saturated, and infiltration rates diminish.

The City of Bend

Streets and Operations Department crews and contractors are currently widening streets which will assist transportation ease as well as helping to clear storm drains. They will likely plow streets more than once in coming days.

Utility crews this weekend will also work to clear blocked storm drains.

The Utility Department is getting mobile pumps and Vactor trucks ready to pump high water areas. If required, detours and street closures may be necessary to manage flooded areas.

There are things you can do to protect yourselves and your property. The sooner the better.

This is very important. Everyone needs to play a part.

Before the weather turns warmer and wetter, residents can help prevent and prepare for anticipated flooding. Residents who feel safe doing so can help keep storm drain inlets and swales open by using a shovel or rake. You may need to do this more than once.

Direct melt off away from structures by creating paths. Remember water will travel from high points to low points by the easiest means possible. Given this, you may want create safe pathways for water flow and/or obtain sand bags now.

Keep an eye on your neighborhood storm drains (grates on the streets and inlets within a curb area) especially as rain nears. If it is safe to do so, continue to clear snow, ice and slush that may otherwise block your storm drain inlet to help prevent localized flooding.

Do not pull up manhole covers. This can create additional sanitary sewer flooding issues in addition to health and safety hazards. Call Utilities at 541-317-3000 (ext. 2 for storm drain issues) if you feel that lifting a manhole would relieve a flooding situation. An answering service will dispatch calls over the weekend and after hours to staff in the field.

And if things do take a turn for the worse, Bend police Lt. Clint Burleigh said, “We have sandbags and are planning staging locations at this time. We are hoping to have this information released as soon as possible.”

Helpful maps for the public. Here’s a link where you can find a storm drain AND fire hydrant map:

Instructions to use this are on the home page that opens automatically. You can enter your address in the search to find what’s in your neighborhood.

Separately, a map of catch basin locations: (This link is also found on:

Safety tips:

Sloped roofs can create safety risks as temperatures rise. Melting will bring down icicles and snow slabs off pitched roofs; be vigilant when entering or exiting a building to protect your safety.

Don’t forget to shovel out your fire hydrant. In the event of a fire, crucial firefighting time would be saved if firefighters didn’t have to shovel out the hydrant.

Parking restrictions downtown for snow removal

On Sunday night, Taylor NW will clear snow from downtown and will try to clear storm drains in advance of thawing. The plowing efforts will run from 11 p.m. through 7 a.m. Monday. There will be no parking allowed on the streets downtown after 10 p.m. Sunday night. Cars will be towed as needed, and towed cars will be found in the Troy Field and City Hall parking lots. Towed cars will not be fined.

Roof snow load details per geographic area:

The collapse of an elementary school gym and commercial buildings has generated everyone’s concern. The city of Bend does not make recommendations on when to remove snow from roofs. It is up to the individual property owner to consider the benefits and dangers of snow removal and decide their own course of actions. Highest concern buildings:

Flat roofs.

Areas with large open areas and no internal support, such as warehouses and gyms.

Structures built in Bend with building permits are designed to handle 20-25 pounds per square foot, which equates to about 20 inches of snow. Older structures, built before the adoption of building codes in Bend (late 1960’s), may not meet this minimum standard. Manufactured homes are designed to carry 20-30 pounds per square foot, or about 2 feet of snow.

In areas outside of Bend, structures built with building permits are designed to handle more weight per square foot. In La Pine, most structures should have 55 to 70 pounds per square foot roof capacity. In Sunriver, that capacity is 50 pounds per square foot of roof capacity. In Sisters, it is 35 pounds per square foot.

Any property owner in Deschutes County can check the ground snow load for their area by visiting, searching for their address and clicking Development. (Snow load details are available at the bottom of the page.)

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