The storm that wiped out a quarter-mile of U.S. 101 12 miles north of Brookings on Feb. 25 will cost the county about $1 million — and that doesn’t include the roadway itself, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Oregon Department of Transportation.
“We have had quite the year so far,” Curry County Emergency Services Coordinator Jeremy Dumire told county commissioners as part of his quarterly update Wednesday morning.
The storm caused nearly $30 million damage statewide. Damage estimates from the storm that followed it, dumping 10 inches of rain in 24 hours, have not yet been tabulated.
Most of the damage was centered on Gardner Ridge Road near Cate Road in South County where a section of road fell to the canyon below, and along Langlois Mountain Road, where flooding and landslides damaged roadways. The Port of Brookings Harbor has submitted a preliminary damage report; no damage was reported by the cities.
“We expect to see a pretty hefty bill on that,” Dumire said.
The county has already sent two disaster declarations for the storms to the governor’s office for assistance.
In his spare time
When he hasn’t been out chasing storms, Dumire has been organizing trainings, a preparedness fair and working on wildfire protection and tsunami preparation plans.
“We’re just now out of flood season and now we’re going into fire season,” he said, noting that in the past two years, more than 450,000 acres of forest burned in Curry and Josephine counties.
“I don’t know that I’m concerned about a megafire in South County this year,” Dumire said. “I’m worried about North County, particularly with the gorse problem and the forest service lands north of Agness.”
An important job this year will be to get the word out to the public about the fire danger, as more fires are started by people than by lightning strikes, he said.
Dumire and Coos Forest Protective Association are working on a county-wide fire plan that should be complete sometime during the fire season.
He and the Department of Land Conservation and Development and the Department of Geology and Mineral Industries hope to secure a $75,000 grant in September to rewrite the natural hazardous mitigation plan for Curry County, as well.
“I’m not fond of this current plan; it has a lot of room for improvement,” Dumire said. He noted he’s requested at least seven other elements of the landscape here to be considered, including the presence of Sudden Oak Death and the area’s propensity for landslides.
“The plan we have is very cookie-cutter,” he said. “There’s a lot of focus on the earthquake and a tsunami that will do the most damage, but (we need) to prepare for other (disasters).”
The Citizen Emergency Response Teams (CERT) formed in the county can go a long way toward helping out in disasters big and small, and Dumire is working to increase their ranks. CERT-trained residents are trained to evaluate the needs — at minimum for their own family to their entire neighborhood on the larger scale — after an emergency.
“CERT volunteers are very valuable in a disaster,” Dumire said. “They’re trained in search and rescue, psychology, terrorism … And they’re one less person I have to really worry about in a disaster because they have better capabilities of being self sufficient.”
When Dumire arrived here a few years ago, there were only six CERT-trained people; now there are 120. Neighbor Del Norte County, however, has more than 700 trained in the program. He plans to hold another free training at the Emergency Operations Center in Brookings May 10-12.
Dumire is also working with DOGAMI on new tsunami mapping and forecasting to assist with evacuations at the hospital in Gold Beach, which is in the tsunami zone.
Port Orford, he said, is among the first in the state to be modeled under a program called Wave Modeling, which gives people estimated time frames they have to get from where they are to safe ground during an earthquake. Next year, Gold Beach is slated to be studied.
The free CERT course is slated May 10-12 at the Emergency Operations Center in Brookings. To register, call Spring Sheffel at 541-373-0003.
Class on Friday is 5 to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is open to high-school age and adults.