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Local government working to address wildfire information vacuum

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Dick Anderson and Kurt Schrader
Lincoln City Mayor Dick Anderson and Congressman Kurt Schrader (Photo by Claire Hall)

Local government officials are trying to address an information vacuum the public has been pointing out over damage caused by wildfires to homes in Otis.

Information has been hard to come by for residents displaced by the Echo Mountain Complex Wildfire and they have taken to social media and phone calls seeking information.

Lincoln County Board of Commissioners Chair Kaety Jacobson took to YouTube Friday in a bid to calm the public, giving a video update to assure people and give thanks to cities and counties who have assisted those in need during this crisis.

Numerous GoFundMe’s and individuals offering support are taking place as the county rallies to help those in need. Lincoln City’s former mayor Don Williams has been giving free clothing and bedding to those displaced by the fires. Local Lincoln City businesses The Grill 1646 and Marci’s Bar and Bistro have been aiding the community by establishing a food bank and rescuing animals. Many others such as, Jason and Gary from US and Otis Markets have been giving free gas, food and a place to stay to those in limbo.

Newport Mayor Dean Sawyer and County Chair Kaety Jacobson (Photo by Claire Hall)
Newport Mayor Dean Sawyer and County Chair Kaety Jacobson (Photo by Claire Hall)

A Facebook good samaritan has been going to addresses posted on the social media site taking pictures of homes and putting people’s minds at ease. It is believed the man is a first responder, but has not been confirmed. Even those who have lost their homes have been thankful to the man because knowing, they say, is better than not knowing so they can start the insurance ball rolling.

Lincoln County Commissioner Claire Hall has been very active during the wildfires by interviewing displaced residents, government officials and providing the public and media timely and accurate information.

According to Hall, County Emergency Services has been fielding a high volume of calls about topics ranging from status of the fire, evacuation zones, where those in need can go for help and how people can offer help. The call center, 541-265-0621, will remain active with staff levels being adjusted to meet the call volume. Call center staff will be available to help with questions about federal disaster relief funds, private insurance claims and other topics.

Hall said most people she spoke with at the call center were looking for reassurance. They understood this is a huge crisis, things are changing by the minute, and immediate answers are not always possible. Hall said the callers are glad to know caring and heroic people are working on solutions.

A spokesperson for Lincoln County told Homepage Sunday morning that damage investigators who are to assess the loss of homes — that is estimated to be over 100 structures — have been delayed. The team is from Idaho and has run into trouble getting to the area.

Government officials said they want to get people back to their homes when it is safe and right now, downed power lines, hazardous trees and other hidden dangers are preventing that, but they are working on it.

Oregon Department of Forestry officials have been doing a good job of getting timely news releases out to media and the public but have not allowed media into the area as of Sunday.

Homepage has asked officials for access to the area to document damage and report on firefighter activities and is awaiting the green light to provide much needed information flow to a waiting public.

Justin Werner
I'm publisher of Lincoln City Homepage. Also the web guy, photographer, cameraman, video editor, sportswriter, tech support, beat reporter, cat trainer and e-bike enthusiast. I have a passion for telling people's stories and keeping my fellow citizens informed.

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  1. They do have a plan LeAnne, no one bothered to read it or even get it out and follow along. Failures at EVERY level! Dick Anderson’s plan was to hope and pray that nothing bad happened, he could then get his “ticket punched” and move on to the more illustrious and lucrative political position of State Senator.

    This was supposed to be the plan, but it appears that everyone decided to “head for high ground” and left us peasants to our own devices:!/LincolnCity02/LincolnCity0272.html#2.72

  2. The mayor and city council are useless with making decisions that affect the tax paying residents of this city. It’s not that they acted slowly in their plan for a catastrophe THEY HAD NO PLAN! 87 million in a proposed plan to beautify a dead end area. Meanwhile No funding has gone to small business owners from the start of COVID 19 oh and yeah we never heard a peep from the said mayor at the beginning of that either! You have placed the wrong people in office, however that can be changed! You can’t get back memories.

  3. Seems that everyone who had to evacuate to the east on highway 18 was on there own .Many thanks to the RedCross in Salem for finding us Oa place to stay

  4. This city is not storm ready, fire ready or heavy rain ready.
    We have no garbage service, no information, not everyone jumped on the text twit bandwagon and bought into the idiot phones that people seem to need to
    No information on the radio, no nothing.
    87 million urban renewal??? I think your timing is poor. Fix the infrastructure
    that the city needs to operate, and then you can rework Cascade Head. Taxes
    for urban renewal our on our bill every year already.
    Being prepared for the unimaginable is something that needs reimagining,
    when the defecation hits the rotary oscillator it splatters on everyone,
    and city hall is buried in it. We dodged a bullet and that’s the size of it,
    and not everyone was lucky. Take your urban renewal, shove it up your backside and leave it until Satan sells Girl Scout cookies.

  5. we had no power,no smart phone,or any phone,no way to get information. What is a person supposed to do??? There was no comment from our mayor or any city officials,never an update.Only after my son in the valley called KPTV news,were we able to get informed what level we were. I never found any updates on my car radio,the lack of information to the residents of Lincoln City was very upsetting and stressful.The city better rethink their 87million dollar urban renewal!!!! Very disappointed in our elected officials.I praise the power company and all first responders.Thank you !!!

  6. I would like to point out that the fire started on the 7th, but people didn’t hear much (if anything/nothing) until Friday the 11th from the County officials and Mayor Dick Anderson didn’t make a (very lame) statement until the 12th. Lincoln City does not appear to have followed their own Municipal Code for Emergency Operations, and the County doesn’t seem to have even attempted to fill in the gap. First Responders and EMS/Law Enforcement have done what I would characterize as an incredible job and really stepped up to the plate time and again! Where was city and county leadership? I wish I could answer that.


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