Holiday Farm Fire year-end recovery update
"Tremendous amount of work to do"
December 30, 2021 | View PDF
The Holiday Farm Fire burned more than 175,000 acres in and around the McKenzie River Valley in September 2020, displacing more than 1,000 residents and destroying 464 homes, notes Lane County's Disaster Recovery Manager Matt McRae. In a report released last week McRae reported more than 135 wildfire survivors are still sheltered in hotels in Eugene, and less than half of affected property owners have begun rebuilding. "In short, there are hundreds of survivors still dealing with very difficult circumstances," he wrote, "Recovery has just begun and there remains a tremendous amount of work to do."
To deal with the resulting workload, the Land Management Division added: two planners, two Land Management technicians, and an Environmental Health Specialist, an Office Assistant, and a Permit Navigator.
600 properties were affected by the Holiday Farm Fire and 464 homes were lost. Since then 182 dwelling permits have been submitted, with 166 replacement permits issued. 16 permits are still listed as "in review" or under "submitted" status and 82 free emergency RV permits were granted. Since September 7, 2020, 85 properties have been sold.
Direct allocations from the state legislature included $1,800,000 to McKenzie Valley Wellness toward the rebuilding of the medical clinic building in Blue River. Another $903,520 was awarded to McKenzie Fire and Rescue for a new Disaster Relief Logistics Center and $2,100,000 to the Upper McKenzie Rural Fire Protection District to rebuild and equip the Blue River Fire Station. equipment and facility replacement. The O'Brien Memorial Library will receive $1,400,000 for reconstruction and another $15,500,000 was ear-marked for drinking water and wastewater system replacements.
Oregon also provided funds to reimburse lost property tax revenues. The Blue River Water District was allocated $22,242. The McKenzie Rural Fire Protection District will receive $360,061 for lost taxes and $134,134 for their Local Option. $86,732 will go to the Upper McKenzie Rural Fire Protection District for taxes as well as $36,286 for their Local Option. $839,361 was approved for lost taxes at the McKenzie School District and $425,929 for Lane County Government.
Another $2,100,000+ in state funds is projected to provide support for essential incidental and one-time housing costs including first and last rent, as well as damage deposits.
Funds committed to watershed recovery have been agreed to by the Eugene Water & Electric Board, which approved a Watershed Recovery surcharge amounting to $12,300,000 (over 5 years). The McKenzie River Trust has committed to matching EWEB watershed recovery funds at $ 3,000,000, and the state legislature allocated $4,000,000 for McKenzie watershed restoration.
McRae also noted that funds committed by the state funds for wildfire recovery housing: were $100,380,000 statewide and Behavioral health grant for Holiday Farm Fire came to $250,000. A $737,284 Municipal Wildfire Assistance Program will fund three county positions and two positions at DevNW for Disaster Recovery.
In addition, initial hazard tree removal along the highway is now complete. Crews now are working to address roadside trees that died during the heat and drought in 2021.