Areas Subject to Flooding
Cannon Beach is located in an area of high rainfall and thus the flooding of low lying areas is always a threat. High tides and winter storms can intensify the effects of flooding associated with periods of high rainfall. In addition, the severity of winter storms can be increased by cyclical weather patterns such as the La Nina period in the winter of 1998-99.
Within the City there are two major areas that are subject to flooding: (1) areas in proximity to Ecola Creek and Logan Creek, this includes the downtown area; and (2) lower lying areas along the ocean front.
In addition to the flood risks described above, the City is subject to potential flooding associated with a tsunami. A tsunami is a series of traveling waves in water produced primarily by earthquakes. Cannon Beach is at risk from two types of tsunami, a far-shore tsunami and a near-shore tsunami. A far-shore tsunami is produced by a distant earthquake such as the tsunami the City experienced in March of 1964.
Generally, there is plenty of warning time associated with a far-shore tsunami and thus an orderly community evacuation plan can be implemented. A near-shore tsunami is produced by an earthquake in the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Because of the proximity of this type of earthquake, a tsunami could arrive on the shore of Cannon Beach within 10-15 minutes of the earthquake. Therefore, it is imperative that all City residents and property owners have prepared a personal evacuation plan. Scientists believe the last subduction zone earthquake and associated tsunami occurred in 1700.
Although the City of Cannon Beach is equipped with one of the best tsunami warning systems, you may still need to react long before you hear any type of official warning. If you do find yourself in a low-lying area anywhere along the coastline, follow the blue and white Tsunami Hazard Zone signs which provide direction to high ground.
How You Can Help
1. Do not throw anything into the ditches or streams which make up a good part of our storm water drainage system. Even grass clippings and branches can accumulate and plug channels. A plugged channel will not carry water and when it rains, the water has to go somewhere. Every piece of trash contributes to flooding. Some of the City’s main drainage is through low lying areas adjacent to Ecola Park Road and along Spruce Street east of the main downtown parking lot.
2. If your property is next to a ditch or stream channel, please do your part to keep the banks clean of dead brush and debris. If your property has culverts under driveways or other areas, keep the ends free of debris, brush and other blockages. If you have drain grates by your home, keep them clean of leaves and other accumulations which may cover their openings.
3. If you see dumping or debris in ditches, streams or drainage grates, contact the Public Works Department at 436-1581.
4. Always check with the Building Department before you build, alter, grade or fill on your property. A permit may be needed to assure that projects do not cause problems on your property or the property of others. Special measures dealing with siltation and erosion must be utilized. These efforts help keep storm culverts and catch basins free of sediments and capable of handling their full design capacity of water when needed. The issuance of these permits is subject to the provisions of Municipal Code, Chapter 17.62, Grading, Erosion and Sedimentation Control.
5. Protection of the City’s wetlands not only benefits those plants and animals which live there, but also provide a much needed storage area. During times of heavy rains, these wetlands will hold extra water that existing ditches and culverts may not be capable of handling. As the rains subside, these wetlands will then release the stored waters. Criteria for any type of work or development is subject to the provision of Municipal Code, Chapter 17.43, Wetlands Overlay Zone. If your property includes or borders a wetland, contact the City’s Planning Department for additional assistance.
6. Utilize the available City services and information about flood proofing, flood insurance and flood safety.
City Flood Services:
Map Information & Flood Zone Determination
City of Cannon Beach Flood Zone Information
PO Box 368
Cannon Beach, OR 97110-0368
The following City staff members are available to provide various types of flood protection assistance both in our office at City Hall as well as in the field at your site. If you wish assistance, please contact the City at 503-436-1581 to set up an appointment.
Rainmar Bartl, City Planner. He can assist you in making map determinations for the flood zone classification of a parcel or group of parcels, identify if your lot has wetland considerations which may affect flooding, provide information on the regulatory standards dealing with development of your property if it is in a recognized flood zone and indicate whether your home is located within the Tsunami Inundation Zone.
Mark See, Public Works Director. He provides information on all City storm drainage systems, both open ditch & closed culvert type, size, depth, location, requirements and standards for attaching private storm drain piping into the City system. Public Works is also responsible for cleaning and maintaining the City’s drainage system including the ditch & culverts and their beach or stream outfalls. Problems with these systems should be reported to the City.
Mark Brien, Building Official. He handles map information inquiries for flood zone classifications of a parcel or group of parcels and can assist you in determining what types of construction standards would apply to both new and remodeled structures. This information is best used when obtained prior to the design portion of your project so that building standards which are required in flood plains will be incorporated into your original submittals rather than a redesign for compliance which could add additional costs or delays in processing a permit application. The Building Department is best used when contact is made early on in the design stage and may include both field evaluation and office assistance. Chick here to view the City's flood maps.
Jason Schermerhorn, Police Chief. The Cannon Beach Police Department is responsible for emergency service which includes departure/escape routes during flooding or tsunami alerts. If you are not familiar with the route choices from your home or other low lying areas or have questions about high elevations to go to during such events, contact the Police Department at 503-436-2811 or stop by their office at 163 E. Gower, and they will provide you with maps and information. Information is also available on preparing an emergency kit for your family.
Flood Proofing and Flood Protection
Some homes have drains installed which will allow water from the crawl space to drain out to foundation drain or rain drain systems. Unfortunately most systems also allow the high water to drain back into this area during flooding unless they were installed with a backwater valve. If you have such a system, a valve can be purchased for about $40 and installed at the inlet to your crawl space drain pipe.
If you wish, the Building Department can also make an appointment for staff to visit your site and discuss some of the options which may be available for retrofitting or flood proofing. Also, keep in mind that some of these types of projects may require a building or developmental permit. Please check with the Building Department before you begin.
Resource Information. Information is available on these and other flood related topics dealing with reading flood maps, requirements for flood insurance, protecting beneficial flood-plain functions, and of proper development in special flood hazard areas. The references are available at the Cannon Beach Library, 131 N. Hemlock, during their normal business hours.
The City maintains similar materials here at City Hall and the staff is happy to discuss various items with you should you have questions. The City maintains a list of contractors who are licensed within the City and are familiar with the different facets of construction which are needed to complete projects for flood proofing or flood protection. The Building Department can discuss your projects and assist you in finding qualified contractors. They can also put you in contact with the State of Oregon Construction Contractors Board which has the authority to provide for resolution for conflicts that arise from faulty or uncompleted work.
Additionally, the following link to FEMA, the agency responsible for administering the National Flood Insurance Program, allows access to more information and useful links to other sites.
Cannon Beach participates in a rating program which evaluates the efforts the City has taken to reduce the potential for flood damage. At this time, the City has a Class #7 Community Rating. This rating means that property owners in Cannon Beach enjoy lower flood insurance rates than surrounding communities that do not participate in the program. With continued effort and your help, we hope to bring this even lower and further reduce the cost of flood insurance in our community. Many people purchase flood insurance because it is a required part of their home loan. In most cases these policies cover only the structure and not the building’s contents. Loss to the contents of the building may be as great as or greater than that of the building, so a review of your needs with your agent is always wise. If you are covered, it is recommended that you review your level of coverage since both the cost of construction and building contents continually rise.
Don’t return until the official “all clear” is given. Tsunami flooding may last hours and the first series of waves will likely not be the biggest.
Have your electricity turned off by the power company. Lots of houses have wiring which runs below the floor. If these connections are still in contact with damp ground, crawling around under the house could be deadly. Motors and other electrical equipments need to be dried and cleaned before going back into service.
Check for gas leaks. Piping which may have been disturbed could be trapped in cavities within the house and all that’s needed is an ignition source.
Look for disturbed plumbing drains. Homes with older, improperly supported waste drains may have leaks which can become potential health hazards.
Watch where you step. Muddy areas are slippery and stairs may have been dislodged. Debris will likely be present.
Wash with fresh water. Flooding in our area could likely be all salt water or a mix of salt and fresh water. Cleaning all exposed metal will help prolong the life of metals such as ducts, or lots of metal straps or connections used in the structural frame of the house.