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About Clark County > Proud Past > Swept away: Floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes (1948-72)

Swept away: Floods, hurricanes and tornadoes (1948-72)

The climate in Clark County is usually mild. Residents do not expect to see floods, hurricanes or tornados, but sometimes Mother Nature plays a few tricks.

Vanport Flood of 1948

The Columbia River had no flood-control dams in the spring of 1948, when a rush of snow melt headed out to sea. Flood emergencies were battled all along Clark County's waterfront as the river continued to rise toward a crest of 31 feet.

The flood had an even bigger impact across the river, where it swept away Oregon's second-largest city, Vanport, and killed 15 people. Another seven never were found. The city of temporary apartments had been built during World War II to accommodate Clark County's shipyard workers.

The county has faced rising flood waters on more than a few other occasions, but never with such devastating results.

Columbus Day blows us away (1962)

Three people died and 70 were injured in the 1962 Columbus Day Storm. Gusts up to 92 mph were recorded in Vancouver when the storm hit the evening of Oct. 12, 1962. The wind toppled trees, blew off roofs, and knocked over about 175 telephone poles.

The store also left 35,000 people without power and did an estimated $15 million in property damage. Although it had the power of a hurricane, its technically term was "windstorm.'

Tornado tears through county (1972)

Tornados typically occur in the Midwest. But for a few seconds the afternoon of April 5, 1972, an area in east Vancouver saw one of the eerie funnel clouds firsthand. It touched down with unexpected force and struck nowhere else before disappearing.

Six people died and 300 were injured. Damage totaled at least $3.3 million as the tornado spun north from the Washington shore of the Columbia River. Five victims died when a grocery store was destroyed, and the sixth perished in the collapse of a bowling alley wall. Although Peter S. Ogden Elementary School was heavily damaged, miraculously no one was injured.

On Jan. 10, 2008, a twister formed over Vancouver Lake shortly after noon. After destroying the Vancouver Lake Crew Club building and equipment, it seemed to jump to a high elevation and swept east through the Hazel Dell area before disappearing. It blew over semi-trailer trucks, ripped off roofs and downed trees, but no injuries were reported.

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Street address: 1300 Franklin Street, Floor 6, Vancouver, WA 98660
Mailing address: P.O. Box 5000, Vancouver, WA 98666-5000
Main phone: (360) 397-6012 | FAX: (360) 397-6015
E-mail: pio@clark.wa.gov

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