Merkley, Wyden Announce Major Emergency Relief Grants for Oregon

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Ron Wyden, today announced more than $37 million in grant funding to reimburse Oregon for the extensive repairs to infrastructure that was damaged by severe winter weather and record-breaking wildfires. Nearly $11.3 million is related to last year’s wildfires—from repairing pavement damage, to removing tree hazards, to addressing rockfalls.

“Since the devastating wildfires last summer, I’ve been pressuring the administration, Congressional leadership, and my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to make sure Oregon’s impacted communities aren’t forgotten,” Merkley said. “I’m glad we’re finally getting the resources we need to repair the damage from the fires and other disasters so Oregon can continue to prosper.”

“The huge wildfires that tore through Oregon last year are natural disasters just like the severe winter weather that damaged highways on federal lands in our state,” Wyden said. “I am gratified that my work with Senator Merkley and Governor Brown has earned this emergency response to help Oregonians and their communities to recover from these disasters.”

“Oregon continues to face new challenges caused by intensifying wildfires and worsening drought and flood conditions each year,” Governor Brown said. “We’ve prioritized state resources to minimize the impacts these disasters have on our economy and natural habitats, and appreciate all additional federal resources that contribute to long-term recovery and economic resilience of our local communities.”

The Emergency Relief program within the U.S. Department of Transportation awards grants for the repair of highways on federal lands that have been seriously damaged by natural disasters. The funding, which reimburses states for repairs and work they’ve already done, comes only after a governor issues a formal emergency declaration and the state files a request for emergency relief.

In addition to the nearly $11.3 million for repairs to damage caused by last year’s wildfires, the grants provide $10.5 million to for work that addressed last winter’s severe winter storm damage. More than $11 million will reimburse repairs required after storms and flooding across the state dating back to 2011, and another $4.3 million will reimburse work following damage caused by a rockslide and 2015 wildfires in Eastern Oregon.