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White House Approves Oregon’s Disaster Declaration Request For Wildfire Relief

This aerial image taken with a drone shows homes leveled by the Almeda Fire line at Bear Lake Estates in Phoenix, Ore., on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.
This aerial image taken with a drone shows homes leveled by the Almeda Fire line at Bear Lake Estates in Phoenix, Ore., on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.

Top officials in Oregon are applauding the quick approval by the White House of Gov. Kate Brown’s request for a major disaster declaration.

The state requested public assistance for 24 counties — virtually all of western Oregon, as well as parts of central and eastern Oregon — in its disaster declaration request, as well as individual assistance for eight of the hardest-hit counties, including Jackson, Douglas, Klamath and Lane counties.

According to a release from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, "Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

"Federal funding is also available to state, tribal, eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures including congregate and non-congregate sheltering and direct federal assistance.

"Emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance through FEMA’s Public Assistance program, will be provided at 75% federal funding. This assistance is for Benton, Clackamas, Columbia, Coos, Deschutes, Douglas, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Tillamook, Wasco, Washington and Yamhill counties.

"Federal funding is available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide."

Rep. Greg Walden, the only Republican in Oregon’s delegation, connected the speedy approval to a meeting he held with President Trump this week.

“On Monday, I spoke with President Trump and urged swift approval of Oregon’s Major Disaster Declaration and I am grateful for his quick response,” Walden said in a press release. “This declaration will help make assistance available to both individuals devastated by the fire and our communities across the state as they recover and rebuild.”

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Springfield, whose district has been hit hard by the Holiday Farm Fire still burning in Lane County, also expressed support for the disaster declaration.

“I’m grateful for the White House’s swift action in declaring a Major Disaster," DeFazio said in a press release Tuesday. "This decision will make more Federal aid available for survivors of the fires and give communities the resources they need to start to rebuild.”

Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting.

OPB Staff