PHOENIX, Ore. — Phoenix Mayor Chris Luz was waiting for a live interview on NewsWatch 12 Tuesday evening when he got the call from Representative Greg Walden's office, saying that President Donald Trump had approved a major disaster declaration for Oregon.
"That means that we can start to get troops on the ground here, and money flowing through state agencies to Phoenix," Luz said. "Overall it's really good news . . . what we need are footsoldiers on the ground who are experts in disaster relief and recovery."
Congressman Peter DeFazio confirmed the news of Trump's approval minutes later, saying that he had heard from White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that the President had signed the declaration on Air Force One Tuesday afternoon.
“The damage from the wildfires across Oregon is catastrophic, and the scale of the recovery is beyond the capabilities of the state,” said DeFazio. “I’m grateful for the White House’s swift action in declaring a Major Disaster. This decision will make more Federal aid available for survivors of the fires and give communities the resources they need to start to rebuild.”
Oregon's Congressional delegation has been urging the declaration's swift approval since Governor Kate Brown requested it on Monday. This major disaster declaration follows an earlier, more limited federal emergency declaration issued on September 10, which brought some resources from FEMA into the state.
"Oregon is strong. Oregon is resilient. But to fight fires of this scale, we need all the help we can get," said Governor Brown on Monday. "I am grateful for this federal support, which will help us to both address urgent disaster response needs on the ground, and move towards recovery."
Brown's office said that the major disaster declaration allows for additional communications resources, search and rescue support, debris management, and shelter and medical assistance.
The Jackson County Sheriff's Office issued an update on Tuesday afternoon, saying that assessments of the damage in Phoenix and Talent from the Almeda Fire are now estimated at 2,357 residential structures destroyed and 57 damaged.
"On Monday, I spoke with President Trump and urged swift approval of Oregon’s Major Disaster Declaration and I am grateful for his quick response," said Congressman Walden. "This declaration will help make assistance available to both individuals devastated by the fire and our communities across the state as they recover and rebuild. The tragic wildfires in Oregon mean we all need to work together to help those who have lost so much. We will recover and rebuild and come back stronger."
Walden's office said that people in Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, and Marion Counties can register with FEMA the following ways: