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January sees snow, rain, floods all over the valley and state

By Caet Padgett | News Editor
On January 31, 2012

Late January brought heavy rain and run-off from heavy snow in the mountain ranges to the Willamette Valley. As a result, the area experienced flooding, leading to some road and school closures.


Fortunately, Western did not sustain any lasting damage. "The only damage was some minor leaks, but we get that even with normal amounts of rain," said Jay Carey of Western Public Safety. "Minor or no damage, monetary or otherwise," said Tom Neal of the Western Physical Plant. "We had a drain in the NW lower level entry at ITC back up, but we caught it before any damage occurred. Minor roof leaks, but those are normal depending on the amount of rain and direction and velocity of the wind. The main difficulty was the surrounding roads/highways. A lot of water collected in low areas and some roads were closed. That is the reason for cancelling classes and some events."


Central High School in Independence "cancelled activities Jan. 19, and all classes on Jan. 20," said Monmouth Police Sergeant Kim Dorn. "In fact, they cancelled all activities that weekend." Some Western students wondered why classes were not cancelled at the university. "One concern we heard was people wondering why Western was not closed when Central High School was," said Carey.  "During that closure, Dallas schools were still open, Linn-Benton Community College in Albany was still open, and we also remained open. Public Safety always takes in consideration the totality of the situation, and the effects on campus and the surrounding areas. We notify the school administration, and a joint decision is then made between us."


However, Western did cancel evening classes on Jan. 19. Carey said, "From what I was advised, a lot of the closure was based on the fact that some professors could not make it to campus. It really depended on where they were, but we had a lot of people calling in to say they could not make it here." Carey also stated that it depended on where commuters lived. Some areas were not dangerous to travel in, but others were. Carey said students should use their own discretion, and "basically, if your area is dangerous to drive in, do not do it."


The flooding also had an effect on mail deliveries in the Monmouth area. Amanda Bales, with university mail services, said, "While WOU Mail Services experienced no adverse affects from the flooding, there was a three hour delay from the US Postal Service due to flooding in their "hub" in Salem. Mail usually leaves Salem around 5 a.m. and is delivered to the Monmouth Post Office for sorting by 5:30 a.m. and we pick it up around 7:45 a.m., but because of the flood, we were unable to pick our mail up at Monmouth PO until 11:00 a.m. Campus mail deliveries and pick-ups went as scheduled, but we just did not have a lot of first class mail to deliver."


When asked how the flooding compared to 1996, Dorn replied, "Our emergency management coordinator said that there was more runoff and rainfall this year than there was in '96, but the Willamette did not reach flood stage. It was a different type of flooding, because the creeks and streams were affected more. There were also some roads closed, like Riddell road coming into [Western's] campus, and Helmick road."


Bales said that, "having lived in the Monmouth/Independence area my whole life and as a "survivor" of the flood of ‘96, I can say that this whole town has a habit of banding together to help people affected by the water. Although I was not affected by it personally (as in, my house did not flood and my route to work was relatively unhampered), I can see that the town has a desire to help out where we are needed and to give aid to neighbors affected by the flood."

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