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