Wyden, Merkley, DeFazio, Walden Announce Six Oregon Counties Receive Federal Disaster Declaration

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, U.S. Reps. Peter DeFazio and Greg Walden today announced that federal officials have determined the spring storms that hit Curry, Douglas, Grant, Linn, Umatilla and Wheeler counties qualified as major disasters.

This announcement follows the Oregon lawmakers recent letter to the White House in support of Gov. Kate Brown’s request for a presidential major disaster declaration for those counties’ losses from heavy rain, snow melt, flooding, landslides and mudslides between April 6 and 21.

“These storms brought flooding and landslides that devastated communities, damaging bridges, roads and other critical infrastructure used by Oregonians living in these counties,” said Wyden. “I heard at my recent town halls throughout Oregon that relief is desperately needed to help rebuild these communities and help Oregonians facing these losses. “ 

“In April, unprecedented rainfall caused catastrophic flooding, mudslides, and landslides, and jeopardized the health and safety of families across Oregon,” Merkley said. “That’s why I joined together with my colleagues in the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives to urge the White House to give federal disaster assistance to Curry, Douglas, Grant, Linn, Umatilla, and Wheeler counties, as they continue to recover from these storms. I’m pleased that the President agreed to help get these communities get back on their feet, and I will keep using my seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee to make sure Oregonians receive the funding they need to recover from extreme weather events.”

“These funds will support critical public assistance projects, particularly to repair damage to our public infrastructure,” said DeFazio, Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “April’s severe weather caused millions of dollars in damage to the Willamette Valley and southwest Oregon, and I’m pleased that funds will be provided to help us rebuild and reinforce our infrastructure in case of flooding in the future.”

“Today, President Trump prioritized the safety and livelihood of Oregonians,” Walden said. “The recent storms in Oregon have caused damaging flooding, landslides, and mudslides across the state.  Just last week, during my town halls in Grant, Umatilla, and Wheeler County, I saw and heard firsthand the struggles that residents were facing because of the storms. In many places, you could still see mud caked to the side of the walls. Last month, I joined many of my colleagues in the Oregon delegation to ask President Trump for this aid and I am grateful that he listened. This declaration will allow the local government, residents, and businesses to apply for loans, insurance relief, and additional aid as needed. Now, with this aid, we can focus our efforts on recovering and rebuilding.”

Eligible damages in the six counties qualifying for public assistance total more than $8.2 million, a particular challenge for smaller rural communities.  In Wheeler County, public damage levels added up to more than $700 per person.

A federal disaster declaration allows local governments to be eligible for loans, insurance relief, and other assistance.

A web version of this release is available here.