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Impact of Vanport Flood Remembered at PCC
Photos and Story by Mark Evertz
PORTLAND — The flood responsible for wiping an entire city off of the map in Portland nearly 50 years ago is being remembered at Portland Community College’s Cascade Campus March 4 and 6 – not just for the havoc it wreaked, but also for the people it left behind.
The Vanport Flood, which engulfed Vanport City in north Portland on Sunday, May 30, 1948, will be discussed in two separate forums on March 4 and March 6 at Terrell Hall, Room 122, 705 N. Killingsworth. The event is sponsored by the Cascade Campus Community History Center.
The first event, The Women of Vanport, features "Good Work Sister! Women Shipyard Workers of World War II: An Oral History," and "Women, War and Work: Shaping Space for Productivity During the Second World War." The discussion dovetails with Women’s History Month and will start at noon March 4.
In the second event, The Vanport Flood will be the topic of discussion at the second annual Jackson Forum March 6 from 10 a.m. to noon, also at PCC Cascade’s Terrell Hall, Room 122. In "The Vanport Flood and its Impact on the African American Community of Portland," a presentation of research papers on the topic is scheduled, as is an oral history demonstration by Portsmouth School students, a personal account by Vanport Flood survivor Edna Mae Pittmann and a visit by "Vanport" author Manly Maben.
The Vanport Flood washed away Vanport City, the largest public housing project ever built in the United States, at 4:05 p.m. on May 30, 1948, when the dike holding back the Columbia River gave way. The city, at one time responsible for housing nearly 50,000 people after construction was completed in 1943, was underwater by nightfall. Fifteen people died in the flood.
Both forums, sponsored by PCC and the Cascade Campus Community History Center, are free and open to the public. Parking is also free.
Several other events are slated in May to discuss and remember the flood, as well as celebrate those who persevered. For more information contact the Cascade Campus Community History Center at 978-5198.