September 12, 2019

Merkley, Wyden Announce Funding for Rural Communities Hit by Severe Winter Storms

The $150 million in grants are part of the bipartisan disaster relief package that passed this summer

Portland, OR – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced that $150 million is now available to help rural communities recover from substantial damages and losses caused by severe winter storms earlier this year, which closed roads and left countless families without power for weeks.

Nine Oregon counties—Coos, Curry, Douglas, Grant, Jefferson, Lane, Linn, Umatilla, and Wheeler—are eligible to apply for the grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which were funded in the $19.1 billion bipartisan disaster relief package that Congress passed this summer.

“Last winter, communities across Oregon faced dire consequences of intense storms,” Merkley said. “In some cases, families and businesses struggled for weeks without power or other basic resources—and many still live with the financial consequences of those storms. As the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, I fought to make sure communities that suffered from severe winter storms and intense wildfire season were included in the disaster relief bill, so that Oregonians and communities across the West could recover and thrive.”

“I have heard from rural Oregonians in town halls and other meetings just how much last winter’s storms walloped their communities by causing significant power outages, closed roads and more,” Wyden said. “These resources will help Oregon to recover by reducing the likelihood of long-term damages from those short-term weather disasters.”

In February 2019, cold air from the north and Pacific moisture caused heavy snow and dangerous wintry conditions in Oregon, culminating in massive snowpack that leapt over average levels by as much as 160 percent and a state of emergency declaration in nine counties. Now, municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and tribal nations in those nine Oregon counties are eligible to apply for the disaster relief grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Facilities Program, helping to fund a wide variety of recovery projects.