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Water rises, residents flee

ASHLAND ' Alan Green was just thankful his home at Nauvoo Park Estates in Ashland was still resting on its foundation.

He seemed almost at peace Friday, even amid a downpour that forced the evacuation of several homes after water from nearby Bear Creek flooded half of the trailer park.

This isn't nearly as bad as '97, he said while standing in frigid ankle-deep water near his home.

Green recalled taking refuge atop a mailbox in 1997, as water that escaped Bear Creek's banks rampaged through Nauvoo Park Estates, washing away homes and cars and knocking his home off its foundation.

The 1997 flood began on Dec. 31 and inundated properties along virtually every waterway in the Rogue Valley.

— Green praised improvements made in the aftermath of that flood to the area near the trailer park. Crews raised the Bear Creek's banks by a few feet to keep water at bay, Green said.

At about 2 p.m. Friday the Jackson County Emergency Management Center issued an evacuation warning to the 50-unit Nauvoo Park Estates, which is located at 2020 South Pacific Highway, near the intersection of Valley View Road and South Pacific Highway.

Two other mobile home parks along South Pacific Highway ' Jackson Wellsprings in Ashland and Greenway Village in Phoenix ' were issued evacuation advisories.

At Nauvoo, residents grabbed what they could and headed for dry land. They emerged from their homes burdened with photo albums, stereos, bicycles, cats, dogs and plastic laundry baskets heaped with clothes. They sloshed their way to waiting cars and left their relatively dry homes behind. As of Friday afternoon, none of the homes had been flooded, but many driveways and yards had disappeared beneath chocolate-colored water.

Residents said the creek overflowed at the trailer park's north end at about 1:30 p.m. Soon after, water crept in from the south and lapped at doorsteps, they said.

Water levels were highest at the trailer park's north side. Peggy Meyer, whose home sits at that north end, dropped her dog and cat at Best Friends Animal Hospital in Talent and returned to her home to snatch some clothes and her computer.

I would give anything to be in sunny California right now, she said.

Meanwhile, less than a mile north of Nauvoo Park Estates on Highway 99, Jackson County Fire District 5 crews were scrambling to rescue a homeless man caught in Bear Creek's surging water.

The initial call was made by a Mickey's Dump Truck Services driver who saw the man clinging to a tree to keep from being washed away. The man was stranded about 25 feet from the creek's bank, District 5 Chief Dan Marshall said.

It was like a river ' very, very strong current, Marshall said. We were worried about debris coming along and hitting him.

A firefighter donned a life vest and harness before wading into the chest-deep water. He reached the man and slid a life vest over him and attached a harness, then walked him to the shore, Marshall said.

We had a tremendous rescue with limited resources, Marshall said. The guy was lucky to be alive, that's for sure.

The man was wearing shorts and no coat. Marshall said he was suffering from hypothermia after spending nearly an hour in the water.

District 5 crews spent the rest of the afternoon chasing more than 20 weather-related calls, Marshall said.

Nauvoo Park Estate residents got unexpected help in their evacuation when a number of Highway 99 commuters pulled in to lend a hand.

Daniel DeNeui helped the evacuees wheel bicycles and carry boxes to dry land.

I was on my way to Portland for the weekend when I saw what was happening, so I stopped by to help, he said.

Water rises, residents flee "cconrad@mailtribune.com.Road closures:

Roads throughout the county were closed because of high water Friday. It was not known by late Friday when they would reopen. Residents seeking further information may phone the Jackson County emergency operations center at 776-7338.

Old Siskiyou Highway from Highway 66 to California.

Minthorne Road.

Meadows Road at East Evans Creek Road.

Willow Springs Road.

Webber Road.

Upper River Road from the Gold Hill crossing to Tolo Road.

Highway 234 from Table Rock Road to Meadows Road.

Buckhorn Springs Road at the power plant.

Sams Creek Road at the 8-mile point.

Rogue River Drive from Highway 62 to Longbranch Road.

Beagle and Dodge roads from Antioch to Meadows roads.

Portions of Highway 66, including the Emigrant Creek Bridge.

Daniel Green walks through Ashland?s flooded Nauvoo Park Estates, after Friday?s rains pushed nearby Bear Creek over its banks, forcing residents to evacuate.