Oregon State Grant Is Being Made Available To Eligible Fire Victims Of The 2020 Labor Day Fires
A windstorm blustered across Oregon on Labor Day in 2020, simultaneously igniting 5 megafires and twelve others. Within days, over a million acres were scorched- including forests and homes. Taking 11 lives and destroying more than 4,000 homes, many are still struggling to recover from this wildlife season. Three years later, rebuilding is still ongoing- with some people not being in a position to reconstruct their homes, and others being financially stressed by the additional expense.
Razing parts of the state- from Jackson through to Clackamas Counties, the fires were energized by 30-60 mph hot, dry east winds. Complicating the natural phenomenon, PacfiCorp neglected to shut off power as the high winds rushed across Oregon. At Gates School, for example, one of the firefighters noticed a fire that started when high winds blew trees into the overhead power lines and called 911 to report this. Evidence such as this call resulted in a jury establishing PacifiCorp’s liability for four of the fires in June.
A financial grant is being made available by the Oregon Housing and Community Services to repair, rebuild, or replace homes lost in the 2020 Labor Day fires and those who are eligible could benefit from the state grant. Funded by a $422 million grant for disaster recovery from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Oregon Homeowner Assistance and Reconstruction Program is the first assistance intended to go directly to the survivors of the fires.
Earmarked for the benefit of low- and moderately low-income individuals and families, state officials say that those who have already rebuilt may still be eligible to receive reimbursement. Local community-based agencies and organizations have partnered with Housing and Community Services, and are preparing to accept applications by March 2024. The local community groups and organizations scheduled to be involved include:
- Douglas County: Glide Revitalization.
- Jackson County: ACCESS and NOWIA Unete Center for Farmworker Advocacy and Firebrand Resilience Collective.
- Lane County: McKenzie Valley Long Term Recovery Group.
- Lincoln County: Community Services Consortium.
- Linn and Marion Counties: Santiam Service Integration Team (Santiam Hospital).
Wildfire recovery has catalyzed more than $500 million in spending to fund wildfire recovery in Oregon according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, yet many still find themselves battling to recover. Rebuilding homes has been expensive and slow, despite substantial efforts being made by citizens.
ACCESS community action agency’s chief operations and housing officer- Joe Vollmar. issued a written statement expressing his appreciation to Oregon Housing (OHCS) for making a user-friendly system available and also for their willingness to fund local organizations that support survivors of the 2020 Labor Day fire with the application process. Recognizing the difficulties that Oregonians have faced working with FEMA and other recovery programs, Vollmar thinks this may be not just the best, but also the last chance for survivors to benefit from significant aid.
Oregon state’s Disaster Recovery and Resilience program (ReOregon), is tasked with managing wildfire recovery and CDBG-DR block grants. Applicants for the financial aid offered need the following when applying for the program:
- Proof of ownership in respect of the damaged or destroyed home
- Personal identification (ID) of the claimant as well as all members of the household over the age of 18.
- Evidence showing the property was the primary residence.
- Proof of current income.
- Records of damage caused by the 2020 Labor Day Disasters.
- Insurance records and records of all other recovery funds received.
If you are a survivor of the Labor Day 2020 fires, sign up for email updates from ReOregon to stay informed.