A Tale of Two Oregons

My plane touched down at home in PDX on Feb. 14 right as Oregon was experiencing the biggest power outage our state has ever seen. Thousands of Oregonians—including myself—were without power for days, and thousands more are still waiting even longer for the lights to come back on.

This is unacceptable.

Last week, I also visited FEMA temporary housing in White City, where families who survived the Almeda and Obenchain fires have taken refuge while they figure out what’s next. The flames from last fall’s fires may be extinguished, but the needs of so many Oregonians remain fresh

Some are struggling to pay for healthcare-related expenses, like many families around the country, but on top of that stress, these Oregonians have only 14 months to find a new place to live in the middle of a statewide housing shortage and global pandemic.

This is unacceptable.

Those experiences last week here in Oregon and what I heard from Oregonians who tuned in to my online town halls for Multnomah, Marion, Douglas and Jackson counties make it clear the pandemic and its economic fallout -- combined with natural disasters like fire and winter weather that have hit our state hard -- means we are dealing with two Oregons. 

One Oregon will weather each short-term crisis for its duration, knowing it has resources and support systems to survive tough times. The other Oregon remains in desperate need of assistance long after the short-term crisis passes. 

That’s why I’m pressing Congress and the Biden administration to go big in the next COVID economic relief package with ongoing unemployment help that makes a real difference for people out of work through no fault of their own, and relief checks that provide a lifeline to working families and middle-class Americans.

In the spirit of the “Oregon Way,” the need is now to end the tale of two Oregons.