Sen. Wyden: 100% of debris clean up will be reimbursed by the federal gov.

PHOENIX/TALENT, Ore. — This year’s fire season is off to a fast start in southern Oregon and northern California.

Government officials, both local and federal, say they’re working to stay a step ahead of potential wildfires that could destroy communities.

“I think we’re looking at the prospect of multiple big fires all over the West, and we’ve never had that before, and you know that’s really the threat,” said Sen. Wyden.

Senator Wyden spoke at a meeting this morning at the Phoenix Community Center Saturday morning with the Phoenix mayor, FEMA officials, and Oregon State Senators Jeff Golden and Pam Marsh – before visiting the Totem Pole housing site in Talent.

“It’s all about prevention and serving communities when fire hits,” Sen. Wyden said.

He says additional support is coming from the federal government to firefighters for technology, involving tankers and drones.

Aside from additional resources for firefighters, Sen. Wyden says 100% of debris clean-up in Phoenix and Talent is going to be reimbursed from the federal government to the state.

“It’s the first time Oregon has ever received any kind of an adjustment to a federal cost-share for a disaster declaration.”

The money is coming soon they say, but they don’t have an exact date on when, yet.

The Jackson County Emergency Management Operation Center’s John Vial says clean-up efforts with the Almeda Fire are nearly complete.

“Right now we estimate that we’re probably 95% cleaned up, there are less than 50 houses that need to be cleaned up,” said Vial.

Despite incoming funding and preparation, all the government officials believe it will be another 2-3 years before the communities of Phoenix and Talent are restored.

The discussion also touched on Senator Wyden’s proposed DASH Act, or the Decent Affordable Safe Housing Act for all, which would allocate funding for emergency housing should anything like the devastation of the Almeda Fire hit the state again.

NBC5 News reporter Mariah Mills is a Medford native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor's Degree in journalism. She also minored in sociology. In school, she covered Oregon athletics for the student-run television station, Duck TV. When she's not reporting, she’s reading, hiking and rooting for her favorite teams, the Seattle Seahawks and the Oregon Ducks.
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