First Alert: Heavy rains pour into Sandy, Zig Zag Rivers, raising flood risk

Published: Nov. 4, 2022 at 5:38 PM PDT
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CLACKAMAS COUNTY Ore. (KPTV) - A major rainstorm brings back a stark reminder for those who live in the foothill communities near Mt. Hood.

In Welches, the Sandy and Zig Zag rivers rage as heavy rain pounds the communities just west of Mt. Hood.

Jim Highland has lived in his house just a short walk from where the rivers meet for decades. He said the risk of flooding has been a constant almost his whole life.

SEE ALSO: Lost mushroom hunter rescued from icy storms on Mt. Hood

“I haven’t ever lost any bank right here, but my neighbors have,” Highland said. “The property downstream from me, they’ve lost.”

Highland has lived through disastrous flooding in this area, including in 2011 when several homes along the Zig Zag river were swept away. His home was thankfully okay, but he said he knew people who were not as fortunate. Highland said because his house sits on a hillside above the Sandy River, he worries about the foundation giving out if water levels get especially high.

“We’re at the mercy of this river, honestly,” he said. “I mean it’s low enough below my house. My concern would always be getting undercut in a huge flood.”

SEE ALSO: Wind blasts Oregon house boat on Columbia River into Washington

Highland said he’ll be staying in his house for now, but anticipates losing power.

Clackamas County has listed both county-sponsored and city-sponsored cites where residents can pick up sandbags if they are in areas prone to flooding. Those can be viewed here.