This is a terrifying time for Oregonians across our state, as smoke chokes the air and flames threaten our communities—all in the midst of a global pandemic. The number and scale of fires burning are unprecedented, and Oregonians who are suffering need immediate relief. As Oregonians work to recover and rebuild from these catastrophic fires, my team will regularly update this page with information about guidance, resources and assistance available to Oregonians impacted by these devastating wildfires.
Recovery Resources: Scroll down to information, or click here for business and agricultural producer resources, and click here for individual resources.
As this situation is rapidly evolving, here are a few places to get emergency alerts and announcements:
> Click here to sign up to receive emergency alerts for your county (statewide).
> Click here for an up-to-date map of wildfires across the state, and links to Facebook and Twitter pages with information for affected counties (northwestern Oregon).
> Click here to read announcements and alerts, divided by county (statewide)
> Click here to track the air quality index in your area.
> For information on road closures in and around impacted communities, click here. You can also call 5-1-1 for the latest report, or get detailed information at TripCheck.com.
FEMA DISASTER ASSISTANCE
With support from the Oregon delegation, the state has received an emergency disaster declaration and a major disaster declaration, bringing FEMA assistance to Oregon communities. Assistance includes debris removal, search and rescue, emergency transportation, shelter, and distribution of food and first aid.
The first step to accessing assistance is registering with FEMA. Please call 800-621-3362 or visit DisasterAssistance.gov. Additional details below.
> By registering with FEMA, Oregonians can access:
- Assistance with food and shelter, emergency supplies, support for individuals with disabilities, reunification of families, support for pets.
- Crisis counseling, helping survivors to begin to rebuild their lives.
- Disaster Unemployment Assistance, providing unemployment benefits and re-employment assistance services.
- Disaster Legal Services for those who qualify as low-income.
- Disaster Case Management resources, providing guidance and tools to assist with rebuilding.
- Individuals and Households Program financial assistance and direct services to those who are uninsured or underinsured.
> Through the emergency declaration, Oregon has already received a number of assistance resources:
- Officials ask that you do NOT disturb ash or debris on your property until it’s been assessed for hazardous materials, such as asbestos fibers, toxic chemicals, and electrical or structural hazards.
- FEMA assistance will be available as soon as fire conditions allow. Click here to check back on resources.
- Meanwhile, click here for tips for safe debris removal.
- FEMA is providing grants to assist with fire suppression at fires across Oregon, and is coordinating with state and local agencies to deliver resources to impacted communities.
- FEMA has sent 15 trucks of supplies to affected communities, and has set up staging areas to deliver supplies directly to residents.
- Additionally, four search and rescue teams have been deployed, three of which include K9s. FEMA has also sent a search and rescue incident support team to assist.
- Under the emergency declaration, FEMA is providing state and local agencies with resources to shelter individuals who had to evacuate.
- For counsel on what housing assistance may be available to you, visit an evacuation site. Click here for the Red Cross map of sites, or click the county-specific links above.
- With the approval of a major disaster declaration, temporary housing resources will also be available through an application process.
- Assistance includes lodging expense reimbursement for short-term stays in hotels or motels; rental assistance for temporary housing, or direct temporary housing (multi-family lease and repair, recreational vehicle, manufactured housing unit; direct lease); money to help repair or replace your primary home; or assistance with permanent housing construction. Click here for an overview of the program, and click here for detailed information.
PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY
Sen. Merkley and the Oregon delegation have successfully pushed for a public health emergency declaration. With this designation, Oregon is receiving several important resources:
- An Incident Management Team (IMT) and regional emergency coordinators who will coordinate with state and local health authorities and emergency response officials, medical personnel, and oversee equipment deployment in response to the state’s request;
- The activation of the National Disaster Medical System, which will provide technical assistance to state officials, and members from the Urban Search and Rescue Teams, the Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team, and the Victim Information Center; and
- Valuable data and tools to support counties’ emergency response, including the number of Medicare beneficiaries who rely on electricity dependent medical equipment—such as dialysis and home oxygen—to help anticipate, plan for, and respond to the needs of at-risk populations.
As Oregonians start to return home and rebuild their lives, here are some resources to help replace documents, file insurance claims, obtain tax relief, access temporary housing, and access veterans benefits.
- If fires destroyed your mailbox or if you don’t yet have a temporary mailing address, you can ask your local post office to hold your mail, and pick it up there. Click here to find contact information for your post office.
- If you have a temporary address, click here to have your mail forwarded. Or, if you’re going to be someplace long-term, click here to change your address.
> Ballots will be mailed out on Oct. 14, but will NOT be forward through the mail. If you’ve been displaced by wildfires, you don’t need to re-register to vote, but you do need to provide a new address to the Oregon Secretary of State office so they know where to send your ballot. Click here for a full FAQ from the Secretary of State.
- Click here to provide the Oregon Secretary of State with a temporary mailing address to send your ballot.
- Click here to fill out the absentee ballot paper form.
> This DMV portal (click here) allows Oregonians to replace many essential documents online. Click here for a topic-specific guide from DMV, and see below for next steps:
- FIRST: Update your mailing address. Whether you have a new mailing address or are having your mail forwarded, do this before you start replacing documents.
- Replace a license/ID card: Click here to order replacement license or ID card online through DMV2U. It will be mailed to the address on record, so update your address first.
- Registration card: Click here to order a replacement registration card.
- Reporting the loss of vehicle: Click here (DMV portal) or click here (PDF form) to report to DMV the total loss of a vehicle.
- Order a replacement title: Click here to order a replacement title. You must fill out the form and mail to the DMV in Salem (DMV, 1905 Lana Ave NE, Salem OR 97314) or return to any local DMV office.
> State agencies are providing insurance assistance to Oregonians who have been displaced and impacted by wildfires.
- For direct assistance, call 888-877-4894, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For general answers to questions, click here to visit their website.
Here are some important next steps:
- FIRST: Contact your insurance company ASAP to let them know you have evacuated and discuss next steps.
- Check your policy. Coverage is typically available for fire, smoke, and ash damage to your home and personal property.
- Ask about your auto coverage, too. Comprehensive auto coverage may cover fire, smoke, and ash damage.
- Save your receipts if you had to evacuate. Your homeowners’ policy may pay for expenses such as lodging, food, and even pet boarding.
- Your insurance company will ask for a list of items that are damaged or destroyed. Once it safe to do so, make a home inventory by taking photos or video of each room in your home (click here for a helpful inventory checklist). Don’t forget what is on walls, in drawers and closets, or storage areas like attic and garage, and remember small items like jewelry. To the best of your ability, write down the age, original cost, and replacement cost of each item.
> The IRS is giving Oregonians impacted by wildfires an extension to January 15, 2021, to file various individual and business tax returns and make tax payments. Click here for details.
- Individuals and households who reside or have a business in Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn and Marion counties qualify for tax relief.
> The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is suspending debt collection action for up to 90 days or extending repayment terms on preexisting VA debts, whichever the Veteran prefers.
- Veterans should contact the VA Debt Management Center at 1-800-827-0648.
> For veterans who are displaced and need their medications sent to an alternative address:
- Call 800-949-1004 and select option “1” for Pharmacy, or “0” for the operator and have them transfer you; ask for the VA Pharmacy to mail medications overnight to a temporary address where they are staying.
- If you have do not have a temporary address for receiving mail, call the main number above and select option “2” and request your primary care provider to send your prescriptions to a local, retail pharmacy.
> The Disabled American Veterans organization is providing assistance of up to $1,000 for veterans who lost their homes or left their homes under mandatory, Level 3 evacuation orders. The organization notes that processing requests may take time, and that requests will be processed in the order they’re received. Please follow these steps:
- Email email@example.com and state WILDFIRE RELIEF in the subject line.
- Provide full name of the veteran/surviving spouse.
- The address that has been affected.
- An address you can receive the check at.
- Your phone number and/or email address.
- Proof of veteran status. Various types of proof will work, and the veteran DOES NOT need to be in receipt of any VA benefits. Examples: DDF 214, VA rating sheet, driver’s license with “veteran” annotation, etc.
- Are you requesting for food and clothing only OR did you have to evacuate/pay for lodging? Please include as much proof/verification to make this as easy as possible.
- State and local agencies are helping people find temporary housing. For counsel, visit an evacuation site. Click here for the Red Cross map of sites, or click the county-specific links above.
- ACCESS, located in Jackson County, is helping people find temporary housing. Click here (information in English and Spanish).
- HUD is providing immediate foreclosure relief. HUD’s automatic 90-day moratorium on foreclosures of Federal Housing Administration (FHA)-insured home mortgages commenced for the Oregon counties covered under the major disaster declaration. For assistance, call your loan servicer or FHA’s Resource Center at 1-800-CALL FHA (1-800-225-5342).
For longer term housing assistance, the here are additional federal resources:
> If you have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac-backed mortgage, you may be eligible for additional forbearance, waiver of late fees and penalties, or other assistance.
- Freddie Mac: Affected homeowners should immediately contact your mortgage servicer (the company to which you send your monthly mortgage payment). Click here for details on assistance available.
- Fannie Mae: Homeowners should call 877-833-1746 to access the Disaster Response Network or other available resources.
> Making mortgage insurance available: HUD’s Section 203(h) program provides FHA insurance to disaster victims whose homes were destroyed or damaged to such an extent that reconstruction or replacement is necessary and are facing the daunting task of rebuilding or buying another home. Section 203(h) borrowers are eligible for 100 percent financing, including closing costs.
> Making insurance available for both mortgages and home rehabilitation: HUD’s Section 203(k) loan program enables those who have lost their homes to finance the purchase or refinance of a house along with its repair through a single mortgage. It also allows homeowners who have damaged houses to finance the rehabilitation of their existing single-family home. For a list of lenders in your area, call FHA’s Resource Center at 1-800-225-5342.
> USDA emergency assistance for rural development borrowers: USDA has payment assistance options are available for select Rural Housing Service programs for borrowers that have been impacted by a natural disaster, including assistance for existing single-family home loans, multi-family home loans, and community facilities loans.
SMALL BUSINESS AND PRODUCERS
> With the approval of a major disaster declaration for Oregon, small businesses will be eligible to apply for Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL).
- Click here to apply for a non-COVID EIDL.
(Note that even if a small business owner has already received an EIDL or EIDL advance grant for COVID, the owner is eligible to apply again since this is a separate disaster.)
> Agricultural producers in or adjacent to counties with disaster designations may be eligible for low-interest emergency loans from the Farm Service Agency to help recover from production and physical losses.
- Click here for information and application forms.
Recovery Assistance for Agricultural Producers:
> The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has both technical and financial assistance available to help the recovery of Oregon’s producers, like farmers, ranchers, wine growers, wineries, and tree farmers.
- Below, find important next steps and assistance options.
- Click here to go straight to the USDA Disaster Recovery Tool, which asks five questions to identify USDA programs that will help meet producers’ disaster recovery needs.
> As Oregon agriculture producers shift to recovery mode and assess the damages to their operation, they should contact their local USDA Service Center (click here) to report a loss and learn more about the various program options available to them.
- The local office will help producers with the documents needed to help expedite assistance, such as farm records, receipts and pictures of damages and loss.
> Agriculture producers with federal crop insurance coverage should contact their crop insurance agent for assistance and report crop damage to their agent within 72 hours of damage discovery and follow up in writing within 15 days.
- Click here to locate a USDA Risk Management Agent.
The Farm Service Agency (FSA) offers several disaster assistance programs to help offset eligible losses. Click below to learn more about programs specific to your operation:
- Livestock Indemnity Program
- Livestock Forage Program
- Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program
- Emergency Conservation Program
- Emergency Forest Restoration Program
- Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program
- Tree Assistance Program
> USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offers several programs to help in the recovery process, including the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) to help fire victims with planning cost-effective post fire restoration practices.
> For impacted communities, NRCS’ Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program provides vital assistance to local government sponsors to address watershed impairments or hazards such as debris removal and streambank stabilization to prevent further devastation.
WILDFIRES, SMOKE AND COVID
Wildfires and the dangerous smoke they create are threatening to make the pandemic even worse. (Click here to track the air quality index in your area.) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that smoke can make people more prone to respiratory diseases, including the coronavirus. And while in other years Oregonians could go to their local libraries or other large indoor public spaces to be in cleaner air, many of those spaces are currently closed due to the pandemic.
Now is the time to do everything we can to take care of our health and the health of our neighbors and loved ones. And the best way to do that is to limit your exposure to smoke.
Specific tips from the Oregon Health Authority and the CDC are:
- Keep indoor air as clean as possible by closing all windows and doors, using a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to reduce air pollution, avoid smoking tobacco, using wood-burning stoves or fireplaces, candles, incenses, or vacuuming;
- Close all windows and set air conditioning to recirculate air when driving;
- Stay hydrated to reduce symptoms of scratchy throat and coughing;
- Stock up on medicines routinely taken by storing a 7 to 10-day supply for prescriptions medicines in a waterproof, childproof container to take with you if you evacuate;
- Reduce time spent in smoky areas;
- Reduce time spent outdoors and avoid vigorous outdoor activities; and
- Listen to your body and immediately contact your healthcare provider or 911 if you are experiencing health symptoms.
Other steps you can take to create a cleaner air space at home to protect yourself from wildfire smoke during the pandemic include:
- Using a portable air cleaner in one or more rooms;
- Creating a do-it-yourself box fan filtration unit (instructions can be found here, NOTE to never leave these unattended);
- During times of extreme heat, pay attention to temperature forecasts and stay safe; and,
- If you have a forced air system in your home, you may need to speak with a qualified heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) professional about different filters (HEPA or MERV-13 or higher) and settings (“Recirculate” and “On” rather than “Auto”) you can use to reduce indoor smoke.
Pets can be affected by wildfire smoke, too. Here are some tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association to keep your pets safe:
- Keep pets indoors as much as possible, and keep your windows shut.
- Birds are particularly susceptible and should not be allowed outside when smoke or particulate matter are present.
- Let dogs and cats outside only for brief bathroom breaks if air quality alerts are in effect.
- Avoid intense outdoor exercise during periods of poor air quality. Exercise pets when dust and smoke has settled.
- Have a pet evacuation kit ready, and include your animals in your disaster preparedness planning.
EVACUATIONS AND SHELTERS
More than 500,000 Oregonians are under some level of evacuation notice. Please make sure to follow evacuation orders; they’re for your safety, as well as for the safety of your entire community and our first responders. The different levels are:
- Level 1: BE READY. Prepare, monitor, and pack your valuables. (Click here for a guide on what to pack.)
- Level 2: BE SET. Be set to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
- Level 3: GO. Leave immediately.
> For information on road closures in and around impacted communities, click here. You can also call 5-1-1 for the latest report, or get detailed information at TripCheck.com.
> If you must evacuate, click here for Red Cross shelter locations across the state.
> VCA Animal Hospitals in Keizer, Salem, Springfield and Eugene are offering free boarding assistance for pets that are displaced by wildfires. Click here for more.
> For shelter locations by county, click on your county below. Some locations are specifically for RVs, vehicles, or livestock.
- Clackamas County
- Douglas County
- Jackson County
- Josephine County
- Klamath County
- Lane County
- Lake County
- Lincoln County
- Linn County
- Marion County
- Tillamook County
- Washington County
> To let your loved ones know you’re safe, register with the Red Cross’ Safe and Well list: click here. To search for a loved one in the Save and Well registry, click here.
WILDFIRE EVACUATION PROTOCOL TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF COVID-19
During Oregon’s wildfires and safety evacuations, it is important to take precautions to avoid spreading COVID-19, particularly for those in isolation or quarantine due to a positive diagnosis or exposure to the virus.
The first priority in wildfire situations is responding to the evacuation and safety instructions of local and state fire officials – and heeding their warnings. Regardless of disease status, if you are asked or ordered to evacuate, you should do so.
If you or a household member are quarantining or isolating to prevent the spread of COVID-19, please take the following precautions
- If ordered to evacuate, do so immediately. Follow all instructions from fire officials.
- If you have time, reach out to your local public health authority, who should have already been in contact with you about your isolation/quarantine. They may have solutions to help you continue to isolate/quarantine if you are evacuated.
- Should you be directed to a shelter or other evacuation space, please let officials know you are in isolation/quarantine so that they can take steps to keep you distanced from other evacuees.
- Wear a mask at all times when outside your home, or if you may come into contact with people who do not live with you.
- If you are an older adult or a person with disabilities, reach out to the Aging and Disabilities Resource Connection for information about resources 1-855-ORE-ADRC(1-855-673-2372).
- Practice physical distancing to the greatest extent possible, if you must travel outside your home for any reason, including evacuation.
- More information about wildfire safety and your health is available on healthoregon.org/wildfires.
- Additional resources can be found by calling 2-1-1.
MENTAL HEALTH DURING THE CRISIS
The wildfires and COVID-19 public health crisis have increased the stress and anxiety many are experiencing. The threat of evacuation from your home and not having a home to return to is an incredible challenge. If you need emotional support, help is available. SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters. Call SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to speak to a trained crisis counselor.