PENDLETON — Officials in Eastern Oregon are urging the governor to declare a state of emergency in response to recent flooding.
Office of Emergency Management Director Andrew Phelps toured flooded areas of Umatilla County on Tuesday.
Last week, Phelps declined to recommend an emergency declaration to Gov. Kate Brown, according to Republican state Sen. Bill Hansell, one of several elected officials who requested one.
The agency needs a comprehensive damage assessment before issuing a disaster declaration, spokeswoman Paula Negele said. “There would have to be significant damage to homes and businesses, and we are in the middle of collecting that information,” Negele said.
The county declared a local state of emergency April 10 due to flooding from rapid snowmelt and spring rains.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released water April 11 to ease pressure on McKay Dam, which doubled the flow rate of a creek in Pendleton.
Homes in Pendleton have experienced up to 18 inches of water in basements, dumpsters provided by the city are filled with debris and a nursing home remains evacuated, said Umatilla County Commissioner John Schafer.
In the city of Umatilla, about 41 miles west of Pendleton, Schafer said a footbridge was washed away and could cost millions to replace.
“One house was knocked off its foundation,” Schafer said. “These people’s lives are turned upside down right now.”