Oregon Congressman says Biden Administration in position to fund more Almeda Fire relief
Jackson County, OR — Following a visit to the FEMA temporary housing site in White City on Friday, U.S. Rep. Cliff Bentz (R - Oregon) confirmed the Biden Administration is receptive to supplying more funding for the Almeda Fire recovery efforts.
"They assured us that they were standing by, waiting to see if help was needed. Or if we needed help talking to an agency, they were ready to help. I want the community to know that we've stepped in at that level." he said. "I'm very happy to see this kind of development going up, and helping the people that have been displaced. It's a huge challenge from a workforce standpoint and we know that," Bentz said.
Bentz along with officials from FEMA and the Office of Emergency Management in Oregon met with Jackson County Commissioner Rick Dyer and Phoenix Mayor Terry Baker, among others.
"We had some speedbumps early, as you would expect. But we're moving along extremely well and we'll end up with a very robust and effective recovery for all involved," Dyer said.
The next step in the housing mission is to begin placing temporary homes on top of select mobile home parks that were destroyed in the fire. The expectation is that some of the over 100 FEMA-eligible displaced families still awaiting housing will be able to start moving in by late May to early June.
"We've been saying since the beginning of our recovery that the devastation of the wildfire will be felt for years in these communities. Recovery is a slow process, and we're rebuilding entire communities in many cases. But because it's a slow process and it's going to take time, it doesn't mean any of us have lost the sense of urgency we felt while those fires were burning," said director of the Oregon Office of Emergency Management Andrew Phelps.
Beyond those, there are still hundreds displaced by the Almeda Fire who have yet to be deemed FEMA-eligible, particularly in the latinx community. FEMA says not to give up hope, and that they continue to work on expanding their programs.
"We've made well north of 150 calls just to applicants here in Jackson County over the last several weeks, and we've seen some payoffs with folks that, due to one piece of documentation or another, we've been able to get their case into a position where they did qualify and meet the eligibility requirements," said Duke Davis, FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer.