MAPLETON, Ore. (KMTR) -- Help is likely on the way for Lane County and several of its residents following last weeks flood, as local, state and federal government officials have now taken a first hand look at some of the damage left behind.
Representatives for Governor Kitzhaber’s Office, the offices of Senator Wyden and Senator Merkley took a tour of Mapleton on Monday, January 23rd, 2012, along with Congressman Peter DeFazio, Lane County Commissioner Jay Bozievich and other county officials.
While Lane County had the resources to respond to high water and flooding emergency, the county says it has virtually no money in the budget to help residents clean-up or to help residents prepare for future flooding.
Touring the damage, the group took a look at some of the hardest hit properties in Mapleton along Riverview Avenue, including the Mapleton Evangelical Church. The church saw water pour inside the sanctuary. Flood waters also completely filled the church’s basement.
The flood waters also brought significant mud flow on to Riverview Avenue and residents driveways. Officials toured the street, observing how houses on stilts faired compared to other houses sitting on the ground. Many of the stilted houses were raised after the flood of 1996.
The hope is that federal dollars will be funneled in to Lane County to help with clean up efforts and possibly help other residents raise their homes.
“I think just the interest with the federal offices and the state offices is showing that they're looking for trying to put help together for them. And I believe that's the main interest of both the senators offices and the congressman's office is how can they connect people to federal help out here,” said Lane County Commissioner Jay Bozievich during Monday’s tour.
Raising houses may be a daunting task though because of the sheer cost. While each house varies, many raising projects cost between 65 to 70-thousand dollars to raise in 1996. That price includes the cost to raise the house along with additional construction that is typically required with the project.
Today, engineers at the meeting Monday estimated that a house lift project with additional construction could cost around 100,000 dollars.
FEMA’s 1996 grants were up to 30,000 dollars in support. The homeowner was required to front the money first though before being reimbursed by the federal government.
Lane County has to total up damages of more than 1.2 million dollars to declare a “disaster-emergency,” and be eligible for federal aid. Preliminary damage estimates will go to the State of Oregon by Friday, January 27th, 2012.
Meanwhile, residents and businesses are already picking up the pieces and repairing minor to significant damage.
While flood waters didn’t reach the levels of 1996, Jannet Brown says the water still caused severe problems for her commercial building along the river in Mapleton.
Brown’s building is divided in two. Half of it is private studio space for her antique doll repair business while the other half is storage space for a Mexico missionary out of Mapleton.
About 8 to 10 inches of water rolled in to her building, leaving significant floor damage, some electrical problems and a large heap of ruined items.
Jannet hired local jobless Mapleton-area residents to help clean-up the damage. Jannet says she will manage without flood insurance and likely won’t see if she can gain access to help from FEMA.
“To live in a beautiful place, there's a trade off. And I wouldn't live anywhere else. I just... I love it here, it's a beautiful place, so I am willing to tolerate whatever happens,” says Brown.
Next door to Jannet, Siuslaw bank is in disrepair. The 60’s era building will likely stay closed for several weeks. About two feet of water rolled in, damaging much of the insulation, wall board and flooring. Employees were able to move out computers, money and other sensitive items.