Flooding Events

Photo: Flood of 1903While some sort of seasonal flood-related damage could occur in any given year, the flooding and associated events of June 14, 1903, and May 25 1971, were the most significant.  The flood of June 14, 1903 caused the loss of 240 people and $350,000 in property damage.  The flood of May 25, 1971 caused $200,000 in property damage.  Both the 1903 and the 1971 floods were caused by severe thunderstorms.  The 1903 event centered on Balmfork and the 1971 event originated from Shobe Creek. [View photo album at the Heppner Chamber web site here.]

Although the floods of 1903 and 1971 represented a large-scale disaster, they are not unprecedented within the recent past.  Floods of record have occurred in or near the Heppner Area before and since the great flood of 1903.  Past floods have occurred in 1883, 1885, 1888, 1891, 1903, 1904, 1917, 1918, 1920, 1934, 1961, 1965, 1969, 1971, and 1979.  A dam constructed in 1983 across Willow Creek below the confluence with Balm Fork, has greatly reduced the incidence of flooding in the Heppner area.  The risk of flooding remains however from the unregulated streams of Shobe Creek and Hinton Creek, although the incidence has been reduced due to the change of land practice from plowed fields to vegetative cover.  The area of actual flood hazard is currently under evaluation and is expected to be reduced substantially when the study is completed.  However, until the results of the study are officially recognized, and a new Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) is prepared, we must continue to use the current FIRM.