Emergency Preparedness & Response

an icon representing emergency response

During high water and heavy rain events, the Districts implement emergency action plans to keep levees and facilities functioning to protect life, property, and the environment. We work closely with partner agencies, landowners, and non-profit and community organizations to ensure a coordinated approach during emergency events. Our key emergency partners include:

Multnomah County Emergency Management

Portland Bureau of Emergency Management

US Army Corps of Engineers – Emergency Management

Port of Portland – Emergency Management

MCDD Flood Emergency Action Plan (FEAP)

Our response to a flood event is described in detail in our Flood Emergency Action Plan (FEAP). The plan outlines the District’s response to the threat of a flood. This plan only addresses emergency response to a flood event on the Columbia River or Lower Columbia Slough; it does not cover response to stormwater emergencies.

Trainings and Exercises 

District employees undergo Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) trainings in order to prepare for our role in a flood or other regional emergencies.  We put our plans to practice and hold annual tabletop exercises with partners to ensure a coordinated approach to emergency response.


Though the Districts are a first responder in a flood event, the organization of an evacuation and the provision of personal services is coordinated by each City.  Click below to learn more about each City’s Emergency Operations Plans.

City of Portland

City of Gresham

City of Fairview

City of Troutdale

If you have questions regarding emergency management at the Districts, please contact Project Manager Brian Eberhardt at or 503-281-5675.


Make a Plan

Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States and can happen anywhere. You can create an emergency plan for flooding, and other emergencies, in just three steps:

1) With your family or household members, discuss how to prepare and respond to the types of emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live, work and play.

2) Identify responsibilities for each member of your household and how you will work together as a team.

3) Practice, practice, practice.

Build a Supply Kit

In an emergency, emergency response teams may not be able to assist everyone immediately. Being prepared means being equipped with the proper supplies you may need in the event of an emergency or disaster. Keep your supplies in an easy-to-carry emergency preparedness kit that you can use at home or take with you in case you must evacuate.

Stay Informed

Flood History

The Districts have experienced four “100-year events” and two “500-year events” since 1894, the highest flood on record for the Columbia River at the Vancouver Gage.  A 100-year event has a 1-percent chance of occurring within any given year and a 500-year event has a 0.2-percent chance of occurring in any given year. Below is a high water timeline of the last big floods along the lower Columbia River.

June 1894

Heavy precipitation throughout the Columbia River basin during the 1893-94 winter led to heavy snowpack. This was followed by a dry, warm spring resulting in a massive snowmelt. There was still heavy rainfall in the lower basin, contributing to the flooding. Water levels remained at major flood levels (31.3+ NAVD88) for 38 days. The Districts were not formed at this time. 

May 1948

Heavy precipitation in the Columbia River basin throughout the winter led to heavy snowpack. Early spring had little precipitation and few warm days. May brought heavy rainfall and warm temperatures, which created heavy snowmelt in late May causing flooding throughout the entire basin. Water levels remained at major flood levels for 26 days. Levees/embankments breached in PEN 1, PEN 2, and MCDD.

June 1956

Persistent heavy precipitation in the Columbia River basin started in October of 1955 through February of 1956. Heavy rainfall in the northern Columbia basin continued in March. Snowpack in higher elevations started by the end of October, and by springtime snowpack was much higher than usual. Warm temperatures in late spring augmented the snowmelt. Water levels remained at major flood levels for 12 days. The Districts’ system performed well. 

December 1964

Unusual cold weather in early December was followed by heavy snowfall.  Subsequently there was warm, persistent, heavy rains later in the month. December rainfall that year was more than 3.5” above average in the Portland area. Water levels remained at major flood levels for 2 days. The Districts’ system performed well. 

February 1996

The season had heavy snowfall, ice, and warmer temperatures earlier in the season. Floodwaters were fed by heavy rains and melting snow. The Portland Airport area received about 7 inches of rain in a four day period. The Willamette River reached 28.6 feet (WRD) in height and crested the downtown Portland seawall (33.8 NAVD88). The Districts’ system performed well, erosion and seepage were main concerns.