Downriver Dispatches

News of Western Wahkiakum County and Naselle


August 10, 2023

Culvert on the Grays River at low tide. The drought continues. Photo by Karen Bertroch.

There's been a bit of rain on my .45 acre of property so it is now at least wet, if not soaked. Life is better for the roses. They love heat and need water so they are all doing well, but I simply have too many flowers and not enough energy to take care of them as I have for eighteen continuous summers. If you'd like to have any of my "movable" plants, let me know.

In the Meserve files I borrowed from the Archive Center, I found an issue of the "Eagle" from June 3, 1948 with information on the Puget Island flood. The article started with the evacuation on June 1: "The residents of Puget Island tumbled from their beds early Tuesday morning as they were jolted to wakefulness by the screaming of a siren. Sheriff Harry Hayes and Deputy Frank Famonville, who had been canvassing the Island delivering bulletins regarding evacuation procedures, made a circuit of the Island at approximately 1:30 a.m. with the police siren of the Sheriff's car wide open. Hayes said: "We could see lights popping up like firecrackers everywhere." The Army District Engineer from Portland, O.E. Walsh, had issued orders that all lowland residents along the 120 miles from the Sandy River to the mouth of the Columbia River were to be evacuated. Mitchell Doumit, flood evacuation chairman, who received the call, immediately advised the waiting deputies patrolling the area. In the wake of the wailing siren there followed approximately thirty businessmen of Cathlamet who assisted the Islanders, explaining that while there was no immediate danger and that the removal was entirely a precautionary measure, they nevertheless hurried the sleepy people into cars and trucks and began an exodus that continued all day Tuesday."

Skamokawa was being evacuated, first with sandbags being filled to protect property there. On Wednesday gravel trucks which had been summoned to Steamboat Slough, continued to zoom through Cathlamet heading to Skamokawa. Cattle were removed from Puget Island and more urgent calls for sandbag fillers were broadcast via loud speakers. Out at the Crown-Willamette Camp, a cat operator dozed on his seat and failed to hear the signals, a loader operator crept behind a stump to catch forty winks and they say one fellow went to sleep sawing. They had been among the many volunteers who patrolled the Island all night. One man decided to go home to wash his truck since no water had come high enough to flood the Island yet. "I hurried back," he said later, "I just couldn't stand it – it's like a ghost town. I was doing fine sloshing away at a wheel when suddenly everything seemed too quiet! I looked around and couldn't see a soul, the houses all looked dead. There wasn't a child or a cow or a chicken or a dog in sight, not even a bird to be seen. The only sign of life was a pair of socks dangling from a neighbor's clothesline."

This front-page story goes into detail about the flood which did come in to flood the Island. This story illustrates the importance of having a small county newspaper because it brings us our own local history as no other reporting would do. I personally am so happy that the Nelson family will continue keeping our treasure of a newspaper going for hopefully, many years to come, be it online, social media, and please God, on paper, because we need it. Without it, we would have little coverage of our local government, health care concerns, local sports reports, businesses, emergencies, or stories about ships run aground near Skamokawa. The "Eagle" has decades of old newspapers full of our own history so I am pleased we will still have our ongoing history recorded and kept.

The final paragraph in the flood story of 1948 reads, "So Thursday morning came to the community – and rumor and radio have it that the highest crest is yet to come. Do you want to know what will happen today? Tonight will bring higher water and the question is still, "Will it flood the Island?" Good reporting brings history in color! Here's to the Wahkiakum Eagle continuing to bring us reporting live and often, in color.

On Facebook I saw the first advertisement for the 2023 Covered Bridge Dinner on October 7 in Grays River. This event is so popular that many of us wait too late to buy a ticket. Contact Carol Ervest for ticket info at (360) 465- 2275.

Likely, you have heard that work on State Route 401 will begin next month to repair the landslide that occurred on Feb. 23, 2021. This type of work takes a long time to plan, engineer, and get funded. An article in the Chinook Observer stated it was projected to take five weeks. Let us pray it is so, my friends.

Photo of the Week: Grays River behind Duffy's at low tide on August 5. The drought continues.

Calendar of Events:

Tuesdays: Naselle Lutheran Church sponsors morning quilters and knitters in afternoons.

Third Tuesday: Naselle Grays River School Board meets at 6:30 in school library.

Second Wednesday of the month: Grays River Flood Control District meets at the Grays River Fire Hall across from Duffy's Pub at 5:30. Also available by Zoom.

Wednesdays: AA meeting at the Grays River Grange at noon.

First Thursday of the month: Grays River/Rosburg Gardening group meets at Johnson Park at 6.

Thursdays: CAP Senior Lunches are located at Rosburg Hall at noon.

Second Saturday of month: Grays River Grange's Farmers Market at the Grange 10-1.

August 12: 4-H Horse Show at County Fairgrounds in Skamokawa.

August 12-13: Wooden and Classic Boat show at Cathlamet Marina: info at (503) 860-5036

August 15: Naselle GR Valley School Board meets at 6:30 in the school library.

August 16: Wednesday Senior Lunch at Rosburg Hall at noon.

August 17-19: County Fair.

August 19: Loggers Reunion with BBQ and beer at Appelo Archives Center starting at 2.

August 25-26: Friends of the Naselle Library: annual book sale from 9 am to 4 pm at the Appelo Archive Center in Naselle.

September 13: At this meeting of the Grays River Flood Control District, the Columbia Land Trust will give a presentation on new land acquisitions.

October 7: 4-H Covered Bridge Dinner at 4:30. Call Carol Ervest at 465-2275 for more info.

Word for the Week: Kindness


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