Devastating Vanport flood focus of Vintage Books event, OPB show, more

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian Arts & Features Reporter



If You Go

• What: Zita Podany will read from “Vanport: Images of America,” greet survivors, hear their stories and examine photographs.

• When: 2 p.m. Nov. 19.

• Where: Vintage Books, 6613 E. Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver.

• On the web:

• What: “The Wake of Vanport” film screening, with new material.

• When: 4:30 p.m. Nov. 20.

• Where: Hollywood Theatre, 4122 N.E. Sandy Blvd., Portland.

• Registration required:


• “Oregon Experience” on Vanport, 9 p.m. Monday, OPB.

When Portland author Zita Podany came to Vintage Books in September with her new volume, “Vanport: Images of America,” she expected to do most of the talking.

But the crowd that showed up had plenty to say, too. Many were survivors of the infamous flood that submerged the hastily built World War II ship worker city, which housed as many as 40,000 people in the lowlands where Portland’s Delta Park is today. The 1948 flood killed an estimated 15 people — but many believe the real death count must have been much higher.

Before the September event, Podany told The Columbian that it had been hard for her to find Vanport survivors to interview for her book, since so many of them have passed away. But many of the folks who came to her talk at Vintage Books had detailed, eyewitness stories to tell.

So, Zita Podany is coming back to Vintage at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 19. She’ll give another talk about “Vanport: Images of America,” but she’s especially eager to hear out more firsthand experiences of local Vanport survivors. She’ll have recording equipment with her, according to Pepper Parker of Vintage.

“Bring your stories and photographs to help Zita compile a more complete history,” says a statement from Vintage.

Vanport season

If you’re truly fascinated by Vanport and want to see and learn more, you’re in luck: this appears to be Vanport season.

For one thing, the Oregon Public Broadcasting series “Oregon Experience” will air a special program about Vanport at 9 p.m. on Monday. It reviews the creation and history of the wartime city, which was the second largest in Oregon and probably one of the most racially diverse spots in the nation.

Also, try reserving a spot at Portland’s Hollywood Theater at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 20. There’ll be a special screening of a short documentary film called “The Wake of Vanport,” and then 10 new additions — survivor stories that were recorded just this past summer. The event is free but reservations are required via