The rainstorms that brought landslides and floods in April have been declared a major disaster by the federal government, Sen. Ron Wyden announced in a press release Wednesday.
Douglas County is among six counties named in the declaration. President Donald Trump approved the declaration, sought by Gov. Kate Brown and members of Oregon’s Congressional delegation.
The declaration will clear the way for $8.2 million in federal funding to repair infrastructure and allow local governments, residents and businesses to apply for loans and other relief to pay for the cost of repairs.
Rainstorms hitting the region between April 6 and April 21 led to floods, landslides and other difficulties for Douglas County and the other counties listed in the declaration — Curry, Grant, Linn, Umatilla and Wheeler.
In Douglas County, more than 3 inches of rain fell in a 72-hour period ending April 9, swelling rivers, causing minor flooding and forcing highway closures as debris and landslides blocked roads.
It’s not the county’s first major disaster declaration this year. The February snowstorm that toppled trees and wiped out power for weeks in some areas of the county was declared a major disaster in May.
Snowmelt from that storm exacerbated the problems caused by April’s heavy rains.
“These storms brought flooding and landslides that devastated communities, damaging bridges, roads and other critical infrastructure used by Oregonians living in these counties,” Wyden said. “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.”
Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Springfield, said the funds will support critical public assistance projects and repairs to public infrastructure.
“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,” DeFazio said.