The Pilot first reported in July that Curry County and eight other Oregon counties impacted by severe storms have qualified for federal financial assistance.
On Thursday, Sept. 12, Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced that $150 million is now available to help the rural communities recover from substantial damages and losses caused by the severe storms, which closed roads and left countless families without power for weeks.
Nine Oregon counties, including Coos, Curry, Douglas, Grant, Jefferson, Lane, Linn, Umatilla, and Wheeler, are eligible to apply for the grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which were funded in the $19.1 billion bipartisan disaster relief package that Congress passed this summer.
“Last winter, communities across Oregon faced dire consequences of intense storms,” Merkley said. “In some cases, families and businesses struggled for weeks without power or other basic resources—and many still live with the financial consequences of those storms."
“I have heard from rural Oregonians in town halls and other meetings just how much last winter’s storms walloped their communities by causing significant power outages, closed roads and more,” Wyden said. “These resources will help Oregon to recover by reducing the likelihood of long-term damages from those short-term weather disasters.”
In February 2019, cold air from the north and Pacific moisture caused heavy snow and dangerous wintry conditions in Oregon, culminating in massive snowpack that leapt over average levels by as much as 160 percent and a state of emergency declaration in nine counties.
More than $8 million in damages were documented by the Oregon Office of Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
According to Wyden and Merkley, municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and tribal nations in those nine Oregon counties are now eligible to apply for the disaster relief grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Facilities Program, helping to fund a wide variety of recovery projects.