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Nov-26-2008 14:47TweetFollow @OregonNews
One Year LaterSalem-News.com
Oregonians remember and learn from all the good that was done last year and Oregon Emergency Management is encouraging people to prepare in case something like the Great Coastal Gale happens again.
(SALEM, Ore.) - It has been called "the Great Coastal Gale of 2007". Just two days in December of last year that many of us will remember for a long time.
A series of storms from December 1st through 3rd affected Oregon, Washington and the Canadian province of British Columbia, but those two days, December 2nd and 3rd, produced an extreme long-duration wind event with hurricane-force wind gusts of up to 129 mph in some areas of Oregon.
The storm also brought heavy rains and produced widespread record flooding throughout the region. Transportation, power and communications were knocked out. Highways were closed.
Columbia County was flooded like never before. There were downed trees, rocks and mud slides and high water closing roads. Powerful winds snapped the Sitka spruce that shared honors for being one of the nations largest.
Nine counties received a federal disaster declaration, along with the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz, Grand Ronde and Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians. The heavy rain and flooding was blamed for three deaths in the Pacific Northwest.
And yet, Oregonians did what Oregonians do. They picked themselves up and then they picked up their neighbors. The Governor declared a state of emergency immediately so that state assets could be used for response and recovery. The National Guard, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), Small Business Administration (SBA) Red Cross, Oregon Emergency Management (OEM), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), local governments and agencies all stepped up to help those in need. The Governor's Recovery Cabinet was activated to assist where the federal government could not.
OEM activated the emergency coordination center, running 24/7 operations for 17 days. They received 119 requests for assistance from local governments, which resulted in 147 actions by state, federal and voluntary agencies.
FEMA received 3,557 registrations for assistance and provided more than $6 million dollars to individuals and families in need. They are still providing funds to repair local infrastructure. Twenty four mobile homes were provided for displaced residents in Columbia County, particularly Vernonia, which are still in use today. The SBA gave out nearly $12 million in homeowner and business loans.
Oregonians remember and learn from all the good that was done last year and Oregon Emergency Management is encouraging people to prepare in case something like the Great Coastal Gale happens again. Oregon has not experienced their Katrina yet but devastating events can happen here.
Just two days can change Oregon for a long time.
Special thanks to the Oregon National Guard for this report.
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