TALENT, Ore. – Today Governor Kate Brown visited the Mountain View Estates mobile home park in Talent, the park was destroyed in the Almeda Fire and is now one of the first locations to near the end of the clean-up process.
Local officials with agencies that are working in tandem to clean up fire debris and rebuild homes were at Mountain View Estates to give the Governor an update on where the rebuilding process stands today.
“The cleanup efforts started in earnest in mid-January. And we started off kind of slow. We did that on purpose because we wanted to understand the challenges, both operationally and safety,” said Jerry Marmon, ODOT District Manager.
According to Marmon, about 1,200 sites have been fully cleaned up.
“That represents about 70% of the entire place,” said Marmon.
Right now, there are more than 20 debris crews working on clean up with 50-60 dump trucks on site.
The complexity of clean-up lead to a slower start with environmental testing, metal removal, ash and debris removal, the removal of structural concrete, soil analysis, and erosion prevention all a part of the multi-step process to ensure homes are being rebuilt on safe and solid ground.
Officials specified that just because sites are considered clean, that does not mean people are housed at those locations yet.
Marmon, stating that he’s pleased with the pace of the debris removal and clean-up process, saying that the estimated timeline has always been 6 to 18 months and he feels confident that the timeline is moving at a pace closer to the 6-month mark.
Gov. Brown visited the fire area shortly after the Almeda fire tore through the cities of Talent and Phoenix and recalled her visit while seeing the progress that’s been made, saying she remembered the “pain and fear”, saying, “honestly, it looked like a hell of a lot of work.”
Gov. Brown also acknowledge those that are still staying in hotels and struggling to rebuild, addressing the current housing situation in Southern Oregon saying, “That's going to take a significant investment on the part of the state. I expect that to happen.”
“The legislature has made some significant investments at my request, in housing projects, we need more resources on the ground,” said Brown, “as you are well aware, some of these families are not eligible and have limited resource, they're not eligible for FEMA funding and they have limited resources; these families are part of our communities, they're part of the economic and cultural fabric of our communities. The state needs to step up and we need to get it done.”
Today FEMA announced that they will be partnering with three mobile park owners that have parks in the fire area that were destroyed by the Alemda fire to rebuild. FEMA is going to move FEMA trailers into the Totem Pole Trailer Park in Talent, the Rogue Valley Mobile Village in between Phoenix and Medford, and the Coleman Creek Estates in Phoenix. The trailers will house fire victims once the clean-up process is completed.