As part of Oregon’s response to September’s devastating wildfires, Treasurer Tobias Read and Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle have been co-chairing the Wildfire Economic Recovery Council. The group has met weekly since October 5.
The wildfires directly affected huge parts of Oregon. More than 4,600 residential structures were either destroyed or damaged. More than 1,800 people are still living in hotels. Sadly, nine Oregonians lost their lives. Indirect effects, including and especially dangerous air quality, touched us all.
With such widespread destruction, there are no easy remedies or quick fixes. The Council has been discussing issues such as how to remove debris and hazardous waste, pathways and programs to help people rebuild, options for people who are struggling with housing in the short-term, strategies for housing shortages in the long-term, and assistance for small businesses that have been affected. Any one of those would be a heavy lift, but the Council aims to have recommendations on all these topics and more for the Governor by December 31.
Fortunately, Treasurer Read and Commissioner Hoyle aren't going it alone. They are joined by elected officials, community leaders, tribal representatives, and others committed to making a difference, and by members of the public who are sharing their experiences and expertise.
Treasurer Read is also able to draw on his own experience working with the Treasury team on resilience projects, programs that help communities fund big capital projects, and investment strategies designed to put people on the path to a more solid future.
The Wildfire Economic Recovery Council meetings will continue; you can watch the presentations and follow along with the Council's work here: https://www.oregon.gov/gov/policy/Pages/WERC-2020.aspx.
We also liked the hopeful message in this story about debris cleanup: https://www.myoregon.gov/2020/10/29/amid-destruction-hope-for-recovery-and-rebuilding/
Finally, the state has a comprehensive page of resources set up for those who’ve been affected and those who want to help. Details available at https://wildfire.oregon.gov/.
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