Walden, Oregon colleagues seek Trump’s fast OK of disaster declaration for home state

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) recently joined Oregon’s entire bipartisan congressional delegation in urging the president’s fast approval of a disaster relief request made by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.

Currently, Oregon is among several states experiencing unprecedented wildfire damage with more than one million acres of land burned and at least 10 Oregonians dead. Following his recent visit to southern Oregon, Rep. Walden met with President Donald Trump on Sept. 12 to discuss the wildfires and shared pictures he took of the devastation.

A few days later, Rep. Walden and his Oregon colleagues in both houses of Congress sent the president a letter expressing their strong support for an expedited Major Disaster Declaration for the State of Oregon in response to the wildfires.

“Oregon is facing its worst drought in nearly 30 years, which has resulted in some of the driest forest conditions on record,” Rep. Walden and his colleagues wrote, noting that a simultaneous windstorm, with winds up to 50 mph and gusts of 60 mph, moved into the region from the east and mixed with dry fuel loads, exploding existing fires and catching many communities by surprise. 

“Tens of thousands of Oregonians were forced to flee from their communities in the early morning hours of September 8, and it is unclear when they will be able to return home,” according to the lawmakers’ letter.

Additionally, strong winds have downed power lines and started new, quickly spreading fires that have destroyed more than 1,000 structures, including homes and businesses.

“Governor Brown has determined that the severity of the wildfires is beyond the capabilities of the state,” wrote Rep. Walden and his colleagues. “The number and scale of fires burning across Oregon’s landscape at the moment are catastrophic and unprecedented, and urgent action is necessary.”