By Brad Mosher
The residents and businesses of Rockaway Beach, after being battered for weeks by record rains, high tides and gale force winds, may be slowly recovering.
For many in the business district, flood damage was minor along Highway 101 in town.
According to Herman Doty, his Washed Away store at 320 South Highway 101 didn’t live up to its name. The arts and crafts store suffered only minor damage in the first wave of heavy rains that hit the community Dec. 9. “We only had a little water,” he said shortly after the first flooding problem occurred in the beach community more than a week ago.
“If anything, it has been more the wind. It’s torn down some things out front,” he said Monday. “In fact, it is trying to do it again right now,” he added with a chuckle.
Business is back after Highway 101 was closed both to the north and south, isolating the community for several days, he said. “We’ve survived.”
It was the landslides and road closures on Highway 101 that had the biggest impact for the local bakery.
Matt Martin and his wife closed down their Beach Bakeshop in downtown Rockaway Beach for several days, even though the bakery escaped any real flood damage caused by the storms.
“We had almost no real impact here from the rain other than when they closed the roads, we got a lot less customers coming in from the north,” he said. “We weren’t able to go north to go shopping at Cash & Carry and Costco, so we reduced our hours. We were closed that Friday and Monday, instead of being open. When the roads were closed, we had fewer customers anyway.”
Now, Martin is getting ready for a family vacation in Hawaii and the business will be taking the entire month of January off. “We’ll be opening the first weekend in February,” he said.
Grumpy’s becomes food island
At one point during the recent flooding in Rockaway Beach, Grumpy’s restaurant was a virtual island.
The water in nearby Seaview Lake had overflowed its banks and covered most of Highway 101.
The road to Wheeler was cut off by road damage and to the south, Highway 101 was cut off by high water and a series of landslides.
Grumpy’s stayed open.
It was hurt by the constant rain, but it was a leak problem from above.
The road blockages cut off the community from the outside world, but the restaurant was able to serve people.
Scott Higgs lives in Rockaway Beach and works at Grumpy’s on the wait staff. “I was fortunate, but my garage and storage area didn’t (escape the flooding). I was surrounded by mud and it turned my road into a river.”
He was in better shape at the restaurant. A leak by one of the windows caused some problems in the ceiling. “It was fortunate we sit up high enough here that when we flooded out here, it didn’t get that high. We were lucky.
“The next day, we were like the only place in town that was open. We were just slammed with business. Everybody was stuck. We had some tourists from Road Island. They came down just for a day and ended up staying more than two (days). They couldn’t get north or south,” Higgs said.
“We had a captive customer base,” he added. “They couldn’t go anywhere and they couldn’t go anywhere else.
“I was kind of surprised. I didn’t know that many people were still around,” Higgs said.
Although the weather and road closures also cut off the restaurant from making its usual supply runs, the owners were able to make a supply run to Portland when the road to Tillamook reopened.
“We ran out of a couple of things, but we weren’t too bad off either. We managed okay. We were able to get out Friday. We were lucky.”Higgs said the flooding was a lot worse in the community than in 2007. “This was worse. I had to park my truck on higher land. When I came down here, the power was out and water was midway across the highway from the pond (Seaview Lake). The road was almost underwater unless you drove on the line. That was about the only way you couldn’t get your car flooded.”The restaurant had an increase in takeout meals with people busy fighting the flooding and doing the cleanup after the flooding, Higgs said.The busiest time was in the mornings, Higgs added. “A lot of people coming in were hotel guests. There was nothing over in the hotels to eat.
“We were pretty busy that morning. It was like a summer day for us, business-wise.”
City still seeking damage reports. According to city officials, much of the damage in the community has occurred in residential areas.
Due to recent bad weather the City of Rockaway Beach Emergency Management/City Hall is collecting preliminary data regarding damage to individual and business property from the weather storms that hit the city Dec. 7-9. This includes damage from flooding, rain and landslides/mudslides.
According to the city, the initial assessment is not a guarantee that financial assistance will be available to Rockaway Beach residents and business owners.
Damage to individual property must be to a primary residence and not be covered by a homeowners insurance policy, the city explained on its website.
According to the city, when people are reporting damages, it should not include secondary homes, recreational homes, detached garages, storage buildings, and other out buildings as they are not eligible for disaster assistance of any kind.
Individuals and business owners impacted from the storms must report damages to Rockaway Beach Emergency Management/City Hall in order for the City to be considered to receive financial assistance. The City will document the information on specified forms and forward to the State for analysis, the city explained.