Mitchell business owner Gabe Salvage was still in Prineville when the rains first hit Friday afternoon.
Having gone to town earlier, he was about to head back home when his wife Megan called him.
She wanted him know that flooding had caused a power outage at their Wheeler County Trading Company store, so she was hurrying to close down business for the day.
He agreed that made sense – but then he found out the store had other issues.
"I am also mopping up the floor," she told him.
Gabe figured his wife must have misspoken. She must have meant the feed warehouse across the street and further downhill, not the store.
But it wasn't a mix-up.
"That's when I knew it was bad," Gabe recalls, "because in order for water to come into the store, it would take a monumental flash flood."
Not far from that store, Dan Cannon watched water surge down Nelson Street, which bisects Main Street near his Cannon's Tire Center storefront. A long-time resident of the small community, he was around for the infamous flood of '56 and has seen some impressive flash floods – but nothing quite like what he saw on Friday.
"I have never seen it come down Nelson Street like it did," he said. "It was hard to believe – debris, logs and sticks all kinds of stuff."
Cannon was amazed that the skies could dump so much water in a roughly 25-minute span.
When the cloudburst relented, downtown Mitchell was left a soggy, muddy mess, with branches, logs and large rocks littering the landscape and mud piled at least five feet high.
"They had to shut down downtown," recalls Delene Catmull, who leases the Sidewalk Café, one of the businesses that dodged the flood waters. "They evacuated downtown later that evening."
Additional flooding outside of town kept Salvage from returning to Mitchell in a timely manner, but when he finally made it back, he couldn't believe what had just happened. Having seen a few flash floods during his time in Mitchell, he has seen most of them just shoot down Nelson Road and across Main Street and into the creek. Most of the damage had happened on the downhill side of the road.
But this flood hadn't stuck to one path.
"It was actually such a wave of water that it was going three directions," he said, noting that at Main Street, the water split, running east and west along the downtown thoroughfare.
"It was going everywhere," he said. "It was crazy."Cleanup efforts started late Friday and picked up Saturday as heavy equipment was brought in to remove the giant pile of mud the flood deposited in the middle of town. By Monday morning, work still remained.
"We are still working on it," Cannon said. "That ol' soupy mud is hard to move. You have to let it dry out a little bit to possibly move it."
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