U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, U.S. Reps. Peter DeFazio and Greg Walden today announced that federal officials have determined the spring storms that hit Curry, Douglas, Grant, Linn, Umatilla and Wheeler counties qualified as major disasters.
This announcement follows the Oregon lawmakers recent letter to the White House in support of Gov. Kate Brown’s request for a presidential major disaster declaration for those counties’ losses from heavy rain, snow melt, flooding, landslides and mudslides between April 6-21.
“These storms brought flooding and landslides that devastated communities, damaging bridges, roads and other critical infrastructure used by Oregonians living in these counties,” said Wyden. “I heard at my recent town halls throughout Oregon that relief is desperately needed to help rebuild these communities and help Oregonians facing these losses. “
Merkley echoed Wyden’s remarks.
“In April, unprecedented rainfall caused catastrophic flooding, mudslides, and landslides, and jeopardized the health and safety of families across Oregon,” Merkley said. “That’s why I joined together with my colleagues in the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives to urge the White House to give federal disaster assistance to Curry, Douglas, Grant, Linn, Umatilla, and Wheeler counties, as they continue to recover from these storm.”
Walden said he was pleased with the declaration, adding it would allow the region to get the help it needs to recover from the April flooding.
“The recent storms in Oregon have caused damaging flooding, landslides, and mudslides across the state,” he said. “Just last week, during my town halls in Grant, Umatilla, and Wheeler County, I saw and heard firsthand the struggles that residents were facing because of the storms. In many places, you could still see mud caked to the side of the walls. Last month, I joined many of my colleagues in the Oregon delegation to ask President Trump for this aid and I am grateful that he listened. This declaration will allow the local government, residents, and businesses to apply for loans, insurance relief, and additional aid as needed. Now, with this aid, we can focus our efforts on recovering and rebuilding.”
Eligible damages in the six counties qualifying for public assistance total more than $8.2 million, a particular challenge for smaller rural communities. In Wheeler County, public damage levels added up to more than $700 per person.
A federal disaster declaration allows local governments to be eligible for loans, insurance relief, and other assistance.