|Reedsport flooded in 1934...|
|...and in 1964...|
|...and again in 2005.|
In 2007, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced a new mapping system for the national flood insurance program. In order for Reedsport, which is built on a marsh, to be part of this new remapping, the levees surrounding the town would need to be recertified.
“We’ve been jumping through hoops with FEMA to get it done, but we are working on it. We will be paying the Army Corps of Engineers to get the levee certified, but repairs need to be made,” says Scott Somers, city manager of Reedsport.
The Army Corps of Engineers built the levees in 1969 but after years of ground shifting, the levees are damaged. The town is currently working to find the funding to pay for the repairs.
The damaged levees are the main cause of repeated flooding in the area, most notably in 1964 when a flood put the town under 6 to 8 feet of water. Because of the constant flooding, businesses have been reluctant to invest in the area.
“I think owners, and potential owners, recognize that the area is near a levee and have been shy to invest or move in,” says Somers. “It’s difficult to promote economic development and job creation until this is done.”
As part of the plan to transform into a tourism-driven economy, Somers says the town recently approved a concept plan for a new entertainment plaza in the downtown area.
“We are calling it Rainbow Plaza,” he says. “Currently, it’s a large, square dirt lot which we use for most of the festivals in the area. We want to beautify it, put a hard surface down, add perimeter trees and shrubs and make it a place for concerts, discussions and other forms of entertainment.”
The town is also working with ODOT on grants to extend pedestrian and bike ways, as well as installing decorative lighting and ornamental trees.
“All of those steps combined will help make the area more attractive to tourists and those looking to relocate,” says Somers.