Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced $1,560,777.06 in federal funds to cover the deployment of the Oregon National Guard (ORNG) in response to the catastrophic wildfires Oregon experienced in 2020. These funds, allocated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), will reimburse ORNG’s efforts in assisting the overwhelmed staff of the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, state and local law enforcement, and emergency first responders during these disasters.
“Responding to the unprecedented wildfire seasons is an all-hands-on-deck situation. I am grateful for the quick and dedicated response of Oregon’s National Guard when we needed their support,” said Merkley. “I’m pleased these expenses will be federally reimbursed, and I will continue to work towards ensuring Oregon will be supported when our communities are in need of state, local, and federal assistance.”
“The Oregon National Guard stepped up in a big way to protect lives and communities statewide during the devastating 2020 wildfires, and I’m gratified the federal government is covering the costs of that heroic response,” Wyden said. “I’ll keep working both to reduce the risk of wildfires in our state and to make sure the federal government responds when these blazes strike in any corner of Oregon.”
During the incident period, catastrophic wildfires and hurricane-strength, straight-line winds raged throughout the state of Oregon causing widespread damage to property, human suffering, financial loss, and loss of life, requiring extraordinary emergency response and protective measures. In 2017, Merkley created the National Guard wildfire fighting training program and continues to secure funding for these invaluable teams.