In the community

Flood waters force evacuation, shut down two roads near Vale

VALE – Two roads are closed in Malheur County and another could be shut down because of minor flooding.

Portions of Butte Drive between Vale and Ontario and Greenfield Road near U.S. Highway 20 west of Vale were shut down early Wednesday, April 12, because of rising waters in Bully Creek and the Malheur River.

Travis Johnson, Malheur County sheriff, said two people and a dog were evacuated from a home at the corner of Greenfield Road and U.S. Highway 20 early Wednesday because water surrounded their home.

Meanwhile, officials are carefully monitoring a section of 36th Street west of Ontario where a bridge crosses the Malheur River because of high water.

“It looks like the Malheur River is receding around Vale,” said Johnson.

He said, though, he expects the water near 36th Street to climb before it recedes.

The high-water event was triggered by a sudden warm-up and a release of water from Bully Creek Reservoir in the past 48 hours. Bully Creek Reservoir is 99% full and releasing water at a rate of 1,600 cubic feet per second, according to Lt. Rich Harriman, Malheur County Emergency Services director.

According to Harriman, the two people displaced by water west of Vale are staying at a local church.

The National Weather Service early Wednesday warned of moderate flooding at spots near Harper and between Vale and Ontario.

The Malheur River, which had been forecast to drop through the day Tuesday, instead continued to rise

According to a river gauge at Vale, the river hit a crest of 21.56 feet at 1:45 a.m. Wednesday, April 12, before dropping slightly. Flood stage is 19.5 feet, according to the National Weather Service.

The weather service said in its warning that “flood waters will rise above low spots on Copeland Road near Harper.”

The agency also said flood waters would cover portions of Russel Road, which crosses the river west of Vale, and Airport Road southwest of Vale.

The agency said low spots on Malheur Drive “will flood” in an area west of Ontario near 36th Street. Debris could jam behind the 36th Street Bridge.

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