COLUMBIA COUNTY, OR (KPTV) - Tuesday’s winter storm dropped inches of rain over Columbia County, sending a rush of water into numerous homes.
“We tried to stop it. We couldn’t,” 18-year-old Sunshine Howe, of St. Helens said.
Hers is one of many homes damaged by the floods. More than 24 hours later, there is still standing water inside her basement.
“Everything in there is just destroyed,” she said.
Howe, who works babysitting some nights, said she received a call from her mom at around 5 a.m. Tuesday, asking her to rush home.
By the time she arrived at their three-bedroom house on Gable Road, a nearby creek was spilling into their lawn. The water, she said, swept everything in its path and even eroded a section of Gable Road.
“The road’s been blocked off since about 7 o’clock last night," she said.
On Wednesday morning, the Howe family assessed the damage, finding random items strewn throughout their lawn, including a Wal-Mart shopping cart.
“We have no clue where it came from.”
Howe said she could hear the raging water smashing against the backside of the rental house where she has lived with her mom and little sister for the past five years.
“I’m surprised our windows didn’t break," she added.
According to Howe, the flood damaged years’ worth of precious keepsakes, the women were storing in their basement.
She said her family did not know how to react.
“We were really scared. We didn’t know what was going to happen, so we called 911 and we said, ‘Hey! our house is flooding," she said.
Police arrived soon after and told them they needed to leave. Officers also shut off power to the home to keep them from being electrocuted.
The Red Cross also responded, bringing them blankets and other necessities. The Howes are now staying in a nearby hotel, while their landlord handles the repairs.
And, although Howe and her family are safe now, she said she cannot help but wonder what would have happened if her mom had not woken up when she did.
“It could’ve possibly came upstairs. We could’ve flooded inside while we were sleeping," Howe said.
There’s was not the only home damaged in Tuesday’s flood. Many communities in St. Helens and Scappoose were hit hard.
According to county officials, if you think the real market value of your damaged home is now less than the assessed value, you can file an application with the Columbia County Assessor’s Office for a tax-proration.
During this process, an appraiser will inspect your home to determine the extent of the damage. They then compare that to the assessed value, according to officials. If you qualify, you can earn a tax-proration for the number of months your home is damaged.
To speak with a Columbia County tax assessor, call 503-397-2240.
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