Initial report finds $72 million in damage from Oregon’s arctic blast

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – After January’s arctic blast brought snow, and ice, to the Pacific Northwest — leaving a trail of downed trees and powerlines — an initial damage report says the winter weather caused around $72 million in damage across the state, according to the Oregon Department of Emergency Management.

The agency initially told KOIN 6 News that the assessment found about $68 million in damage affecting 16 counties, before updating that figure to $72 million later in the day on Friday.

Of the $72 million in damage, the initial assessment found 51% is attributed to damaged public utilities — including downed power lines. This percentage only includes Public Utility Districts and private non-profits, officials said, noting this does not include for-profit utilities such as PGE.

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Another 18% of the damage is attributed to debris removal from public roads and right of ways, officials said.

  • A north-looking view of the Portland skyline and downtown roads during a winter storm, January 15, 2024 (KOIN)
    A north-looking view of the Portland skyline and downtown roads during a winter storm, January 15, 2024 (KOIN)
  • A downed tree in the Portland area during a winter storm, January 13, 2024 (PMG photo: Jonathan House)
    A downed tree in the Portland area during a winter storm, January 13, 2024 (PMG photo: Jonathan House)
  • Did a tree fall on your house? You're eligible for a Clackamas County tax break
    A house is smashed by a tree in the Lake Forest neighborhood after a devastating ice and wind storm. (Courtesy: Jonathan House)
  • A home in Eagle Creek was damaged by a downed tree during the ongoing winter storm. Jan. 13, 2024. (Courtesy: Shannon Pauly)
    A home in Eagle Creek was damaged by a downed tree during the ongoing winter storm. Jan. 13, 2024. (Courtesy: Shannon Pauly)
  • The Vista House completely frozen over after a winter storm on Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. Vista House has been closed since Jan. 12. (Credit: Don Hamilton/ODOT)
    The Vista House completely frozen over after a winter storm on Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. Vista House has been closed since Jan. 12. (Credit: Don Hamilton/ODOT)
  • Vista House parking lot off of Historic Columbia River Highway still covered in ice and snow from a winter storm on Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. Vista House has been closed since Jan. 12. (Credit: Don Hamilton/ODOT)
    Vista House parking lot off of Historic Columbia River Highway still covered in ice and snow from a winter storm on Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. Vista House has been closed since Jan. 12. (Credit: Don Hamilton/ODOT)
  • An ice storm hit Seaside, January 15, 2024 (John Paul James)
    An ice storm hit Seaside, January 15, 2024 (John Paul James)
  • A downed tree on NE Flanders in Portland during a winter storm, January 13, 2024 (KOIN)
    A downed tree on NE Flanders in Portland during a winter storm, January 13, 2024 (KOIN)
  • A downed tree in a winter storm on SE Troutdale Road, January 13, 2024 (Multnomah County)
    A downed tree in a winter storm on SE Troutdale Road, January 13, 2024 (Multnomah County)
  • Ice slicked the streets and paths of downtown Portland on January 17, 2024 (KOIN)
    Ice slicked the streets and paths of downtown Portland on January 17, 2024 (KOIN)

The $72 million includes over $16 million in damage to public infrastructure and response costs submitted by Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties, according to ODEM — noting exact figures will not be known until further evaluation.

Lane County saw the greatest damage with more than $40 million in estimated damage, ODEM said.

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Officials emphasize these figures are from an initial assessment commissioned by ODEM and its emergency partners, and that the $72 million in assessed damage could increase or decrease as the agency evaluates and verifies information with counties.

ODEM initially told KOIN 6 News that 11 Oregon counties appear to meet the threshold for Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance through a major disaster declaration.

Since completing the initial assessment, ODEM expects a Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment with FEMA in the next 30 days — which could also determine if a Major Presidential Disaster Declaration is required.

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Once the joint assessment is complete, Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek can request a Major Disaster Declaration for significantly impacted counties.

The state is also working with the Small Business Administration to help businesses impacted by the storm. According to ODEM, 1,172 small businesses have submitted economic impact assessments.

The January 2024 storm assessment is among the highest initial damage assessments in the state, ODEM said.

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The storm brought down over 350 trees and large branches in Portland and led to some large trees falling on homes — including some homes in Lake Oswego, and Oak Grove.

At the peak of the storm, Oregon saw half a million homes without power, with crews replacing thousands of pieces of equipment to get the lights back on. PGE told KOIN 6 News January’s storm was among the worst the utility company has seen.

Officials noted that the 2020 wildfires – which is at $541,380,897 in damage – is the highest damage assessment to date, with some projects still being developed under that event.

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