Companies nearby make ships for the Second World War. The companies need more workers. The workers need houses.
So the companies build a new city for the workers in 1942. About 42,000 people live in Vanport during the war.
It is the state’s second largest city. About 40% of the people are African-American. Vanport gives jobs to the first black teachers and police in the state.
Vanport has stores, a hospital, a movie theater, and schools. There is a college to help soldiers returning from the war. Later, the college becomes Portland State University.
In 1948, there is much snow in the winter.
There is more rain in the spring.
The snow and rain send a lot of water into the Columbia River. The river becomes very high. They say the city is safe.
However, the city was built quickly. They used cheap materials.
Only a dirt wall separates the city from the river. On May 30, 1948, the dirt wall breaks.
Water from the river flows into the city.
The city is under water in less than two hours.
15 people die. Buildings are damaged or destroyed. 17,500 people have no homes now.
The city is gone. Only stories remain.
Talk with a classmate. A flood is a natural disaster. What are other kinds of natural disasters? For example: earthquake, typhoon, hurricane, tornado, wildfire, drought. What happens in your country?