The lower Umatilla River overflowed its banks at several places late this week, submerging a park and baseball field.
At Hermiston’s Riverfront Park, the parking lot, playground, and entrance to the Oxbow Trail were covered in several inches of water Friday morning.
“The park isn’t closed, but people have to access it from somewhere other than the parking lot,” said parks director Larry Fetter.“The last time there was a flood like this was four years ago when we were building the Oxbow Trail.”
Fetter said the water was channeling northeast past the parking lot, and cut a corner just to the north of the trail.
He said the flood was inconvenient, but didn’t appear to be causing any major damage so far.
“As soon as the water clears, we’ll go out and restore it — it washes out the chip material we use for playground, and leaves a lot of mud,” he said. “It’s really messy and there’s a lot of cleanup.”
Fetter said floods like this aren’t all that common in Hermiston, but seem to occur once every four or five years, and has more to do with the temperature in the mountains.
“People love that park, so they’re impacted,” he said.
Most other areas surrounding Hermiston appeared to be largely unaffected by the flooding, with some minor overflows, but some have had issues in the past. City staff in Stanfield said a levee was built 15 years ago to prevent flooding.
Staff at the city of Umatilla said they weren’t aware of any flooding Friday, but Umatilla High School had one area affected.
“Our baseball field got flooded out, we played in Irrigon yesterday,” said office manager Debbie Tesch. But after flooding several years ago on some of their other athletic fields, Tesch said a dike was built to alleviate flooding problems on school fields.