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Tillamook County Emergency Manager off to Umatilla County


Photo: Metro Creative Graphics

While Tillamook County has been spared flooding from the recent rains, Umatilla County has not. Several of the cities and Umatilla County itself have declared emergencies from flooding resulting from back to back rain events combining with the increased snowmelt.

This has caused many of the rivers and streams to overflow their banks. Additionally, the McKay Dam in Pendleton significantly increased the flow from the dam, which affected residents along the McKay Creek, just downstream from the dam.

Some may recall that in 2015 the Tillamook County Commissioners signed a Resolution stating that Tillamook County would participate in a Sister Community Partnership to respond to Natural Disasters. Umatilla was selected as Tillamook’s Sister County.

Tillamook County Emergency Management Director Lt. Gordon McCraw said, “The concept came from discussions held by the former Public Works Director, Liane Welch, Les Miller, formally with the Corps of Engineers, and myself, about what conditions would be like after a Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake.”

From these discussions, the Sister County concept was born and now several coastal counties have Sister Counties in the eastern part of the state where the least earthquake impacts would be.

On Thursday, the Umatilla County Emergency Manager, Tom Roberts, contacted Oregon Emergency Management in Salem and asked for technical assistance through the Oregon Resource Coordination Assistance Agreement.

After discussions with their Director, Andrew Phelps, they agreed that Tillamook County’s EM Gordon McCraw should be requested, both because of the Sister County Partnership, but also because of his experience with the many flood events in Tillamook County over the years, as well as dealing with FEMA and the Federal Disaster Declaration process.

McCraw added, “I know how confusing things get after one of these events. You have not even finished with the flooding response when you have to also start working on all the things the State needs to see if they can get a Federal Declaration to help with the recovery, I’m just glad I can help.”