City government — Basement floor staff relocated, repair will take four to six weeks

The deluge seen March 28 is what Russ Thomas described as a 50-year rain — something seen only once every 50 years.

“We had 10 inches of water trying to be put into an 8-inch pipe and it just won’t go,” said Thomas, the city’s public works superintendent. “This was a very unusual rain event.”

So unusual that it caused unforeseen damage to City Hall.

“A blocked line on Howard (Street) in front of the VFW hall … caused water to back up the storm line and there’s a drainage inlet in the stairwell south entrance to building that the water surged and came out of the inlet, it didn’t go in the inlet anymore,” said Jay Harris, interim public works director. “So it ran in through the back doors and it also ran into the perimeter footing drains system and the water came up through cracks in the concrete floor in the lower level.”by: GARY ALLEN - Rebuilding -- Workers from the DWI Company of Oregon remove cubicles and furniture preparing the City Hall basement for repairs after the flood March 28.

The water coming from multiple sources happened right around 5 p.m., which Harris said was lucky, if it had happened later the water might have built up and caused more damage that it did.

“We had great response though, engineering and IT personal, public works maintenance crew and the fire department came over,” he said. “We eventually got the line unlogged downstream — it was a root problem. The fire department had backpack vacuums and they were able to extract the majority of the water and they worked hard doing that. I’ve got to give them great praise. It’s like fighting a fire. Water is coming in and not stopping but they’re still running their vacuums. We were there for an hour trying to hold water back with sandbags.”

Unfortunately, Harris said, the insurance agency considers ground and storm water a Class 3 hazard, meaning the carpet has to be removed and some drywall will need repaired.

“IT and engineering have moved out from the lower level,” he said. The cubicles have to be removed to tear out the carpet and repair the walls. “We expect to move back in in four to six weeks.”

The flood effected nine workers, with engineering taking up two spare spaces in City Hall and IT moving into the director’s office.

“It’s a small space, so those folks are crowded in there,” Harris said.

It could have been a lot worse, he said, and expects the damage repair process to go fairly smoothly.

The heavily rainfall also resulted in two emergency discharges of untreated water into the Willamette River, something Wastewater Manager Ernie Strahm is also unusual.

“It’s pretty rare that the city of Newberg has sewer overflows,” Strahm said. “We’re involved in a project, they’re constructing as we speak, a larger addition to the main pump station that should alleviate those in the future.”

There were two discharges, one from a pump station on Dayton Avenue.

“That one discharged about 24,000 gallons,” he said. “It’s a relatively low amount.”

But the second was more significant, with 240,000 gallons released from the main station at the wastewater facility.

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