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Phoenix Mayor Chris Luz talks expectations for Phoenix recovery

Phoenix Mayor Chris Luz looks out his window to see the devastation that the city of Phoenix now faces.

Posted: Sep 13, 2020 11:25 PM

PHOENIX, Ore--- Phoenix Mayor Chris Luz looks out his window to see the devastation that the city of Phoenix now faces. 

"The glow got bigger and bigger and bigger," said Luz. "Fire trucks started to come but there was no water in the fire hydrants. So they came back with about four or five tanker trucks to try to put it out but they couldn't. The winds were at 40-45 miles an hour, it is too much."

Luz lives in one of the only houses left standing within Samuel Loop. That does not mean his house is untouched. The Almeda Drive Fire made its way through the back fence and the back porch. Luz still knows that he is one of the lucky ones. 

"Well, I am not in a lot of people's boat," said Luz. " I did not lose my house. I've got my house you know?"

Luz's house still stands. Much like a lot of Phoenix, the neighborhood has been destroyed. As the Mayor, Luz is now balancing taking care of his property and helping the city through the recovery process. It is a process that is going to take a very long time. 

In the current, Luz says that Phoenix will face four lines of devastation.

"The first line of devastation is going to be the loss of life," said Luz "My heart goes out to the people that have lost their life. We are going to lose people. I'd hate to sugarcoat it. I am not going to. We are going to lose life. A lot of these fires burn so hot that you can't find remains of people because it is like a cremation. It is just completely awful."

Luz says the next line of devastation will be the people who have lost homes and can't afford to rebuild. He mentions that a lot of people are going to have to relocate. 

"Much like what happened in Paradise, much like [Hurricane] Katrina, we are going to have to have people leave our community, unfortunately. In 2018, the Rogue Valley built 400 housing units, that's it.  Within Phoenix, I am estimating that 1,000 housing units are gone."

The next line of devastation will be for the people who have lost homes but can afford to rebuild. 

According to Luz, the final line of devastation will be the cultural change that will take place in Phoenix.

"Our whole community is going to change. It is not going to be the same."

When asked what this week has been like for Mayor Luz, he took a big yawn and said "I am really tired, guys."

Once through those lines of devastation, it will be time to clean-up. It will be a clean-up that is nearly impossible to fathom. According to Luz, the little things will become big things.

"I have just spoken to Rogue Disposal. A basic need is dumpsters. Where are people going to throw out their rotting garbage? The refrigerators are all filled and there is no electricity," said Luz.

However, it is nearly impossible to estimate how long a clean-up of this magnitude will take. 

When will people be let back in? That is the question that so many people are looking for an answer to.

"Questions are being thrown out and people just don't have all the answers. It is not there. The answers that we do have at this point I am going to give you," said Luz. "Pacific Power has just told me that they have activated the power station in Talent. They still have 13 poles to replace, just to estimate. "Then they go neighborhood to neighborhood to turn on the power. They check for safety. They inspect. It will be a bare minimum of three or four days, maybe even a week before they restore power to our area. So, that is going to keep us at a "Level 3" evacuation here in Phoenix Proper. So here in downtown Phoenix, we have three or four days before we are going to be able to come off "Level 3."

Before leaving to attend to more city matters, the Mayor assured the people of Phoenix of how hard city officials are working to help Phoenix in any way they can. With that, he assured the people of Phoenix that the long road will be completed. 

"We will get through it."

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