Jan. 16, 2021 — Rain and heavy winds rolled through the Siuslaw region last Tuesday, kicking off a two-day series of flooding, power outages, downed trees and road closures.
Late morning on Jan. 12, authorities announced that North Fork Siuslaw Road, between milepost 3 and 18, had been closed due to a downed tree. The closure lasted until 3 p.m. that day, but by then other storm-related issues had begun to impact areas in Florence and beyond as extra high tides — known as “king” tides — combined with recent heavy rains began flooding several areas, including the Cushman area along Highway 126 east of Florence.
Travelers to and from the Mapleton area and beyond to Eugene were forced to plan ahead in order to avoid the peak period of high tides, which included water as high as two feet in the lowest section of the highway beneath the Cushman Bridge.
Later that evening, around 10 p.m., a large mud slide was reported along Highway 126 at mile post 25.5, along with reports of cars struck by mud and debris. The slide closed both lanes of the highway while, at about the same time, Highway 36 near Swisshome was also closed due to debris covering part of the road as a result of a mudslide. Fortunately, no one in either slide was seriously injured and both highways were cleared by noon the next day.
The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) removed more than 2,500 cubic yards of material from the Highway 126 slide, but no damage was done to the road, allowing travel to resume in both directions around 11:40 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Meanwhile, school was canceled for the second day in a row in the Mapleton School District due to a power outage. In all, Central Lincoln PUD showed nearly 400 outages along the coast, including Mapleton and its schools. By Thursday, the district was still without power, but virtual classes were able to continue except for grades 1 and 2 and Storytimes. However, food delivery was able to follow its regular delivery schedule.
Eventually, sunny skies and mild winds over Thursday and into Friday provided some relief in the area, with most power restored in the region and the beginning of lower tides and a reduction in flooding.
Little rain is predicted for the next few days, with mostly cloudy skies and moderate weather allowing the region to recover from the impacts resulting from the mid-week storm.