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1993 Floodstage…500 year flood damage on a human scale, by Erwin A. Thompson

Riehlife's FLOODSTAGE SERIES continues with Erwin A. Thompson's explanation of sandbagging, pumps and dumps, and fixing up houses after the water goes down. --JGR

In 1993 we had what they called the "five hundred year flood."


We tried sand bagging, there in the East Bottom, and it worked for awhile. But there are problems with sand bagging that are not clearly seen at first glance.

1) The water gets in behind the sand bagged bulwark.
2) Some of the water seeps in through the sand bags, but a lot of it comes in through the ground.
3) The same septic system that allows the waste to seep into the ground allows the river water to seep in behind the sand bagged area.


We used pumps.

We might have made it, but we were using electric pumps and there was a 24 hour power outage. We lost.


We owned three houses at that time threatened by the flood: 4200 Stanka Lane, #7 Gibbens, and #10 West Bluffline. I used our boat and rescued the water heaters and furnaces from all three houses.

When the water receded, we went back in and rehabilitated the dwellings. This was mostly work. There had been probably three feet of water in each of them.

The Government furnished a "dump" where the trash could be deposited, up by Grafton. This was a big help.

I got my three dwellings done in a couple of months, at a cost of around a thousand dollars for materials for the three of them. I had very little help except for a young man who had been displaced over across the creek who helped me with #7 Gibbens.

And so, the five hundred year flood of 1993 became history.

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  1. Erwin,
    As one flood survivor to another, I can't say I "enjoy" the series. It brings back the sights and sounds of the Russian River rising in 1986. 1995 and 2004...all 9 years apart. Then, there is the smell of dank nasty stuff that no amount of bleach water erased. Hosing out the house, drilling holes in the floor to let the waters wash out, treasures turned to trash, the shared home of neighbors who'd just completed their raised home, Red Cross brooms and firemen making the rounds in boats to insure that residents in need got help, Army helicopters flying us out....oh, the stuff of memory!

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