Decision will enable federal aid to begin flowing, as unprecedented wildfires ravage state and force evacuation of thousands
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, along with U.S. Representatives Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Greg Walden, Kurt Schrader, and Suzanne Bonamici, announced September 11th that the White House has approved the state of Oregon’s request for an emergency declaration in response to unprecedented and dangerous wildfires that are blanketing the state. The Senators and Representatives had pushed on Wednesday for the declaration to be granted, immediately following Governor Kate Brown’s request.
The federal declaration will help provide immediate assistance across Oregon from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
“Families across Oregon are facing horrific and potentially life-changing circumstances as these fires sweep through our state,” said Merkley, who will be traveling around the state to view on-the-ground damage and fire response efforts and talk with first responders and displaced Oregonians today and tomorrow. “As this emergency continues, it’s critical that the federal government do everything in its power to help, and I’m continuing to fight for the resources we need. This declaration will help free up critical emergency assistance, but there will be plenty more we need to do. I urge all Oregonians to continue to remain vigilant and follow directions from local emergency management agencies. My heart is with everyone across our state who is being impacted by this dangerous and heartbreaking situation.”
“Our state is in crisis as life-threatening fires and smoke threaten communities from all over Oregon,” said Wyden. “Countless Oregonians have been forced from their homes, and businesses have been lost as these fires continue to rage. Oregonians need help now, and this emergency disaster declaration will provide the state critical resources to fight these fires. I will continue to fight for resources until we are safe and recovered.”
“Oregon is facing an unprecedented crisis, and this decision to declare an emergency comes not a moment too soon,” said DeFazio. “With tens of thousands of Oregonians—who are already dealing with public health concerns and economic uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic—forced to evacuate their homes and businesses and hundreds of thousands of acres still burning, it’s imperative that the state has the resources it needs to swiftly extinguish the fires and provide relief for those impacted. I will continue to use every tool at my disposal to get Oregon the resources it needs to recover from this disaster.”
“The fires burning in Oregon in recent days are unprecedented and the devastation heartbreaking,” said Blumenauer. “The journey to recovery will be long and painful but the approval of our emergency declaration request is a critical first step to ensure local communities have the resources they need.”
“The unprecedented wildfires in Oregon mean we all need to pull together to get as much help as possible to those who have lost so much,” said Walden. “I am pleased that President Trump quickly approved Oregon’s Emergency Disaster Declaration. This will help ensure our state has the resources needed to deal with these disastrous wildfires. I will continue to work with local officials, the Oregon Congressional Delegation, and the Trump Administration to ensure Oregonians get additional support and resources we all know will be needed to restore and rebuild our communities.”
“Countless Oregonians are currently displaced by these devastating wildfires, many of them from Oregon’s Fifth District,” said Schrader. “This Emergency Disaster Declaration comes not a moment too soon as our state grapples with unprecedented fires in the midst of a global health crisis. Oregon families are hurting and this declaration ensures that we can get them aid as quickly as possible.”
“My Oregon colleagues and I supported this federal emergency disaster declaration to bring critical resources to our state’s wildfire response, and I’m glad to see it was approved so quickly,” said Bonamici. “But we know it will take much more to contain the multiple fires and rebuild. I’ll be advocating for the support we need to recover from this unprecedented tragedy.“
This emergency declaration will provide critical FEMA assistance for Oregon communities, helping specifically with Emergency Protective Measures as first responders continue their work. Eligible entities may receive direct assistance and reimbursement for work undertaken to save lives and protect property, including search and rescue, emergency transportation, and distribution of food and first aid.