President Donald Trump has approved a major disaster declaration for Oregon.
The declaration had been requested by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, and Oregon’s congressional delegation urged the White House to move quickly to approve it.
This new declaration is a step above the emergency declaration approved by the president last week. The emergency declaration had freed up resources to help with firefighting and temporary housing for evacuees. The major disaster declaration means that federal funding will be available to help Oregonians recover and rebuild after the Archie Creek Fire and other wildfires raging across the state.
U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio on Tuesday applauded the declaration.
DeFazio said in a press release he had received confirmation from White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that the president signed the declaration Tuesday afternoon on Air Force One.
“The damage from the wildfires across Oregon is catastrophic, and the scale of the recovery is beyond the capabilities of the state,” DeFazio said. “I’m grateful for the White House’s swift action in declaring a Major Disaster. This decision will make more Federal aid available for survivors of the fires and give communities the resources they need to start to rebuild.”
In a letter to the president on Monday, Oregon’s congressional delegation wrote that more than 1 million acres of land in Oregon have burned, and at least 10 Oregonians have lost their lives, with the death toll expected to rise. That compares to an average 500,000 acres that have burned each year of the last decade, they said.
They wrote that the wildfires are so severe that the state cannot handle them on its own.
“The number and scale of fires burning across Oregon’s landscape at the moment are catastrophic and unprecedented, and urgent action is necessary,” they said.