Two historic floods in 11 years

In 1996, a major 500-year flood decimated much of the region. In the storm’s wake, the tight-knit community banded together to repair and rebuild the town. The residents took great care to rebuild responsibly above the floodplain. But in December of 2007, a second 500-year flood of historic proportions washed over Vernonia. Much of the city’s public infrastructure and property were damaged or destroyed. As much as five feet of floodwater poured into the elementary school, middle school and high school, rendering them uninhabitable.

The health clinic, food bank, senior center, both electrical substations, the electric cooperative’s administrative offices and the waste water treatment facility were also inundated. Half of the district’s 2,200 homes suffered damage, 800 of which were substantially damaged. Over 100 homes were deemed to be beyond repair.

Oregonians and the nation immediately stepped up to provide emergency assistance. State and federal agencies, Oregon nonprofits, other towns and hundreds of faith-based and service organizations launched major relief efforts to help affected families, and the town logged more than 1 million hours of volunteer aid.