Mid-week storms bring potential for danger

A crew from Lincoln City-based Dan Kauffman Excavating works to reinforce residential seawalls Tuesday morning in the Gleneden Beach area where the coast was ravaged by strong tides. (Photo by Michael Heinbach)

Winds, rains responsible for coastline damage

OREGON COAST — Heavy rain showers Monday evening and high winds into Tuesday afternoon brought more than 1.5 inches of rainfall in fewer than 24 hours recorded at Newport’s Hatfield Marine Science Center weather station. By Tuesday morning, the News-Times received reports of rains combined with strong coastal winds and relentless tides had damaged area seawalls and threatened coastal residences in the Gleneden Beach area and damaged at least one roof in Yachats.

As the News-Times went to print Tuesday afternoon, all of Lincoln County remained under a flood watch, a coastal flood advisory, a high surf advisory, as well as a flood advisory issued by the National Weather Service. Those watches and advisories were slated to continue into Wednesday when the News-Times went to print. The high wind warning and high surf advisory issued for the area expired late Tuesday evening.

According to the National Weather Service, coastal flood advisories indicate that tidal overflow flooding is expected to continue through Wednesday afternoon and that area residents should stay alert for rising water, and be ready to take appropriate potential life and property-saving actions if they become necessary. 

The high surf advisory was boosted by King Tides — high tides in excess of 10 feet — from Monday through Wednesday in accordance with Tuesday’s full moon. The advisory means potentially damaging waves were expected to affect all Lincoln County beaches, potentially producing rip currents, sneaker waves and beach erosion. 

During the high surf advisory, citizens were warned to stay well back from the water’s edge and be alert for exceptionally high waves. But that didn’t stop a handful of gawkers Tuesday morning in Depoe Bay, where the western side of the Depoe Bridge that crosses the harbor via Highway 101 saw more than a dozen people gathered to watch, video and photograph the impressive ocean spray, likely placing them in far more danger than they realized.

Tuesday morning in the unincorporated Gleneden Beach area, homes along the coast in the exclusive Salishan Leaseholders Inc. homeowners’ association were being threatened by ripping tides and crashing waves. On Friday, Jan. 8, residents there hired Lincoln City-based Dan Kauffman Excavating to reinforce seawalls that support four homes off Spouting Whale Lane.

“The property that they’re working on now, that’s one of the first two houses built here,” HOA resident Rocky Blumhagen told the News-Times as excavation crews worked to reinforce the seawall that Blumhagen estimated had already lost about 40 to 50 feet to the ocean’s tides by noon Tuesday. “That seawall has been here for 50 years, and now it’s completely crumbled.”

Blumhagen, who was waiting to receive emergency permits from the state of Oregon when the News-Times arrived on scene, pointed out the work the excavation company was undertaking, and made it clear the preventative actions taken since Saturday were responsible for saving a handful of residences. The homeowners’ association received state permits prior to commencing the initial work done during the weekend. 

“Early in the morning Saturday, we knew that our seawall had been breached,” Blumhagen said while pointing out new boulders added to the seascape in order to reinforce it. “For three days (Dan Kauffman Excavating) brought all that rock in, otherwise the ocean would have taken some of those houses by now.”

Lincoln County Emergency Management issued a Lincoln Alerts message to citizens at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday regarding the high wind advisory.

“This is not a general practice for high wind warnings for Lincoln County but this will be a good use of our emergency notification system to test the ‘text/mobile app’ options,” read a Tuesday morning post to the Lincoln County Emergency Management Facebook page. 

Lincoln Alerts is the county’s emergency notification system that can contact residents and visitors with critical information, such as severe weather warnings, tsunami dangers, road closures, missing persons advisories and more. To learn more or to sign up to receive Lincoln Alerts, visit https://bit.ly/2Xzrv7L. People can also follow Lincoln County Emergency Management on Facebook or Twitter to receive periodic updates to conditions.

To review the county’s annual flooding information guide, which provides links to resource information, and additional information on weather/tidal forecasts and historical records, insurance programs, flooding after wildfires and the Lincoln County Self-Serve Public Sandbagging Station and more, go to https://bit.ly/2XwAUNz.

The National Weather Service’s seven-day forecast for Newport, as of Tuesday afternoon, called for at least a 10 percent chance of measurable rainfall each day through Friday.

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