Governor Kate Brown today announced her support for an $11.65 million proposal for state funding for recovery from the recent floods in Northeast Oregon on February 6. This follows up on the Governor’s February 7 emergency declaration, which unlocked initial state resources in addition to state agency emergency response efforts.
“Two weeks ago, hundreds of Oregonians’ lives and livelihoods were completely upended,” said Governor Brown. “I was encouraged to see individuals from across our state stepping up to help people in the Umatilla Basin. But as anyone who has faced enormous loss knows, the hardest time can be in the weeks and months after, when everyday life resumes for others, and you’re still left to pick up the pieces.
“I saw and heard on my visit last week how devastating this is for residents, and I am determined that it shouldn’t be catastrophic to the stability of the community. I am committed to making sure that residents have what they need to stay in place, reopen their businesses, and rebuild their lives. In an area already in short supply of available housing, having so many homes wiped out has an enormous impact. People have been getting by the best they can by staying with friends and neighbors or by driving farther away to find a safe, dry home—but that’s not practical in the long term.
“We need to bring solutions to them. I have directed my team to explore every avenue to get people re-homed as quickly as possible while keeping the community intact, and I have asked the Legislature to approve short-term funding to help close gaps while residents wait for federal assistance. It is critical that we all pull together and prioritize housing and stability for these Oregonians.”
The recovery funding package also includes funding for levee repairs and business recovery. Given the scope, scale, and nature of damages, the federal government is expected to provide significant funding via federal disaster relief programs. State funding would go toward filling the gaps of immediate needs that are ineligible for federal reimbursement. State-led recovery efforts include:
- Funds for expedited purchase and installation of manufactured homes: $4 million
- Low- or no-interest loan options to pay off new homes for amounts not covered by insurance or another source: $500,000
- Rapid rehousing funds to address immediate needs: $1 million
- Long-term housing development funds, which will be released upon finalization of a sustainable community plan: $2 million
- Immediate business recovery funds to reopen local businesses: $1.5 million
- Crucial repairs to the levee system in Pendleton: $1.8 million
- Recovery costs for the town of Milton-Freewater: $350,000
- Emergency relief funds for Milton-Freewater through the Blue Mountain Community Foundation: $500,000
The package has bipartisan support, and area legislators commend the package.
“I very much appreciate Governor Brown’s generous and expedient response to the needs of the Northeastern Oregon counties, especially Umatilla County and the places that were hit the hardest,” said Representative Greg Barreto. “Not only for recognizing the critical situation that these counties are in, but for going the extra mile and gathering together emergency funds.”
“I very much appreciate the leadership and efforts that Governor Kate Brown has taken concerning the relief and recovery of the disastrous flooding in Umatilla County,” said Senator Bill Hansell. “By working together, we will recover stronger than ever.”
“Governor Brown exhibited strong leadership and compassion in her quick response to the citizens of Umatilla County,” said Representative Greg Smith. “Her visit to Milton-Freewater exemplified her concern for all corners of the State of Oregon. I’m glad to work with her to secure these funds for our communities.”
Governor Brown also announced her support for legislation to expand the urban growth boundary of the City of Pendleton (HB 4090), which would accommodate affordable housing which was previously located on land within current city limits which will be reclassified as flood plains and prohibited from redevelopment. This bipartisan bill is waiting for a vote on the Senate floor.
Further assessments to identify needs are underway, including the needs of farmers who lost their crops, and the state will work with federal government and local jurisdictions as appropriate to make sure resource requests are moving forward as quickly as possible.