Floods are the most common and widespread of all natural disasters. Across the nation, property damage attributable to flooding now totals over $6 billion each year. The expected flood insurance losses for Hurricane Sandy are between $12 billion and $15 billion.
During the last century, Jackson County has experienced at least 12 major floods, the landmark flood occurring in 1964. This flood set most of the high-water records for the region. In late December 1996 and early 1997, Jackson County experienced another destructive flood, known as the “New Year’s Day Flood.” This flood caused over $12 million in damages to homes, businesses and infrastructure in Jackson County. More than 1,500 people were evacuated and 1,000 properties damaged. The latest flood, which was less destructive than the “New Year’s Day Flood”, occurred on December 30, 2005 and, again, homes, businesses and infrastructure within Jackson County were damaged.
The drainage basins for Jackson County drain into the Rogue River and can be broken down into 3 large basins:
- The Applegate River basin
- The Bear Creek basin
- The upper/middle Rogue River basin
All other streams are smaller in size to these major rivers but are just as prone to flooding. The flooding of the smaller streams differ only in the size of area where the flood waters extend. The destructive power of flood waters in these smaller streams is the same as it would be in the larger rivers of our area. Additionally as these streams take in more water than they can handle, the water is collectively passed down into the larger rivers. These types of overbank flooding can cause substantial flood damage along the entire basin, as the main waterways receive excess water from all tributaries. The major flood events here in Jackson County happened in similar style, with excess water overwhelming the capacity of the rivers. This water escaped the banks and flooded the surrounding areas, causing widespread damage.
Floods are very dangerous. Even though flood waters appear to move slowly, moving water six inches deep can sweep you off your feet. Water two feet deep can float a car. Never attempt to cross a flooded area, especially moving flood waters.