Thursday, April 30, 2009


This week there wasn't an a column in the Statesman Journal. Since I have been doing them for a while in the paper and we've only just started this blog, on weeks that we have missed I will go back and repost old columns. This week we will go back to April 15th, a week that was missed on the blog because of all the exercises going on!

Federal money offers states help after disasters
Since '95, Oregon has received $108 million.

Oregon has survived 12 disasters in the past 14 years, all receiving federal declarations for the Public Assistance Grant Program. 

Many people remember the massive floods of February 1996. Only nine Oregon counties escaped damage that year.  In December 2007, floods and high winds affected the northwest corner of the state, and snow and flooding in 2008.

All 12 Oregon disasters since 1995 resulted in a federal declaration of what is called public assistance, which means money to cities, counties, the state and nonprofit agencies that perform essential functions. Public assistance is financed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and managed by Oregon Emergency Management.

FEMA public assistance dollars can be used to reimburse a portion of eligible costs to clear debris, respond to disaster emergencies, and repair or rebuild basic structures - the things that allow communities to function.

Oregon's disasters are usually the result of severe storms: flooding, landslides, and mudslides. Roads or bridges wash out; schools and government buildings are damaged or destroyed; electrical and telephone lines come down; water or wastewater treatment facilities are compromised; recreation facilities, parks and beaches all suffer damage.

Since 1995, Oregon has received nearly $108 million in FEMA public assistance funds. Payments for the 1996 floods alone came to nearly $51 million.

FEMA and the state also look for ways to keep disasters from recurring. This is called mitigation. FEMA provides mitigation grants which are administered by Oregon Emergency Management. From December 1995 to the present, FEMA has provided $16.2 million in mitigation grant funds.

Disasters can be devastation: they can also restore. Rebuilding brings jobs, new and improved infrastructure, a fresh outlook and community pride. FEMA is currently in the state providing assistance for our December snow storm.

Jennifer Bailey, formerly of FEMA, is the public-affairs coordinator of Oregon Emergency Management. She may be reached at (503) 378-2911, Ext. 22294. 

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