WASHINGTON, D.C.— As unprecedented wildfires continue to displace thousands of Oregonians and cause extreme destruction, Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley today launched a new resource for Oregonians seeking critical safety information and resources.
“The number and scale of wildfires burning in Oregon right now is catastrophically dangerous, and I am deeply grateful to our firefighters, first responders, administrators, and volunteers who are working around the clock to protect Oregonians,” said Merkley. “I’m launching this webpage, which I will continue to update with new developments, to give Oregonians recommendations that can help them stay safe as well as resources to navigate assistance as it becomes available. In addition, I’m going to keep calling for immediate action in Congress and from the White House to not only respond to these fires, but also to tackle the root issues that are causing these increasingly terrifying wildfire seasons in the first place.”
The webpage, https://www.merkley.senate.gov/wildfires, compiles information from a variety of local, state, and federal public health and safety sources. It includes the latest on the status of an emergency declaration request that would help provide Oregon communities with emergency protective measures such as search and rescue, evacuation transportation, and food distribution. The webpage also includes evacuation guidance for individuals who are isolating or quarantining due to coronavirus infection and tips for maintaining clean indoor air. The page will be updated with resources for navigating federal assistance if and when further assistance becomes available.
The webpage launch follows a push by Senators Merkley and Ron Wyden, as well as U.S. Representatives Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Greg Walden, Kurt Schrader, and Suzanne Bonamici, for rapid approval of Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s request for federal disaster relief. The delegation announced Friday that the initial emergency declaration request had been granted.
Merkley has long been at the forefront of protecting communities from wildfires, using his Senate Appropriations Committee position to fight for critical firefighting resources and recovery funding for affected communities. Merkley has also introduced legislation to help communities harmed by wildfire smoke, as well as legislation that would create economic opportunities in forest-dependent communities while reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfires. Last year, Merkley convinced Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to reverse course on a disastrous plan to shut down Civilian Conservation Centers, which are Job Corps sites operated by the U.S. Forest Service that help fight fires.
Additionally, Merkley is helping to lead the charge in the Senate for the bold, decisive action needed to address climate chaos, which is causing hotter and drier summers and fueling catastrophic wildfire seasons.