Portland, OR Dike Break and Flood, May 1948
FLOOD CRASHES DENVER, UNION AVE. DIKES
Water Spills Into Kelso, Woodland
Vanport Homes Swept Eastward in Low Area,
Man Plunged to Death
Cracking under the weight of water covering flooded Vanport, the Denver avenue and Union avenue roadway dikes washed out Monday night and spewed a ghostly cavalcade of Vanport homes in a deluge acress the lowlands to the east.
All along the Columbia river hundreds of weary flood fighters appeared to be losing their battle as Portland and Vancouver braced for the crest of the flood Tuesday night.
The Denver avenue breach was believed to have claimed the life of one man in a car which slid from the road into the raging torrent and over a 15-foot waterfall.
Sheriff's deputies later identified the car as an emergency vehicle of the Portland Electric Power company. They identified the man as Mike Skaggs, 420 S. E. Grant avenue.
Identification of Skaggs as the probable victim was made by his partner, A. Amorin, 32, Vancouver, who luckily did not go on the last ride.
Amorin said he and Skaggs had been installing floodlights on Bridgeton road and that Skaggs had gone for spare parts. He headed south on Denver avenue not knowing it had been breached
The Vanport flood which struck Sunday was also blamed for the death of a woman refugee Monday night. She was Mrs. Mabel Powell, 54, who collapsed at the Jewish Community center. She was pronounced dead on arrival at Multnomah county hospital.
Workmen along the river east of Interstate bridge were ordered out of the area after the Denver and Union avenue dikes broke.
It was later reported that Faloma dike on the south edge of the river had broken in front of the Columbia Golf and Country club, but the army engineers denied this report at midnight. This, if true, would flood the area solid from Vanport east to the Peninsula canal dike just west of Portland-Columbia airport.
The flood waters from Vanport, which drain Smith lake and Columbia river overflow sections, swiftly inundated Portland Meadows, the open air theater and Portland speedway.