On Wednesday, President Donald Trump approved a Major Disaster Declaration for six Oregon counties, including Douglas, to supplement recovery efforts from the severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides which took place between April 6th and 21st of this year.
A release from the Federal Emergency Management Agency said that federal funding is available to state, tribal, eligible local governments, and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged in Douglas, Curry, Grant, Linn, Umatilla and Wheeler counties.
The release said that federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
A release from Oregon Governor Kate Brown said that heavy rainfall combined with snowmelt runoff set the stage for an extended period of flooding. Reservoirs were near full capacity in early April, according to Brown. Her release said the sequence of events of swollen rivers, full reservoirs, and record-breaking rainfall caused widespread flooding, flash flooding, mudslides and landslides across the state, with the named counties being the most severely impacted.
In Douglas County, up to 3 lives were apparently lost during the stormy weather. On April 9th, a man was presumed to have drowned in the South Umpqua River near Gaddis Park and Interstate Five in Roseburg. Information from the Roseburg Fire Department said a report came in that a man was seen in the river with his arms flailing around in the water. Crews tried to locate the man but were unsuccessful. On April 7th the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said a child reported observing a man clinging to a log and yelling for help on the North Umpqua River near Colliding Rivers. A search for him was also unsuccessful. A 49-year old woman was believed to have drowned in the South Umpqua River April 4th near Myrtle Creek, according to the Myrtle Creek Police. That incident was 2 days before period covered by the disaster declaration but after heavy rain caused river levels to increase in Douglas County.
The release from Governor Brown said more than $8 million in damages were documented in the 6 counties.
A release from Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and Representatives Peter DeFazio and Greg Walden noted the Presidential declaration as well. Walden said “today, President Trump prioritized the safety and livelihood of Oregonians”.