After winter blast, Oregon governor declares state of emergency in Lane County

By OPB staff (OPB)
Jan. 17, 2024 5:15 p.m.

Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek has declared a state of emergency in Lane County in the wake of winter storms that have hit the region over the last week.

County commissioners requested the emergency declaration Tuesday night, as the county continues to respond to repair infrastructure and utilities. Over the past few days, winter weather snarled roads in Lane County, leaving some travelers stranded in place for hours.

In this photo provided by ODOT, a long line of 18-wheelers clogs the northbound lanes of Interstate 5 near Creswell, Oregon.

In this photo provided by ODOT, a long line of 18-wheelers clogs the northbound lanes of Interstate 5 near Creswell, Oregon.

Courtesy of ODOT

“Lane County has suffered extensive damage as a result of the winter storm conditions that we’re seeing across Oregon,” Gov. Kotek said in the statement declaring the state of emergency.

Kotek had already directed state agencies to help local jurisdictions with reconstruction and recovery efforts. The governor’s emergency declaration will help Lane County access federal support.


Jeff Kincaid, interim emergency manager for Lane County, says the declaration makes the region eligible for relief funds.” This has had severe impacts across the region, it’s had far reaching implications, the ability to deliver supplies, fuel shortages, folks that are trying to get required medical treatment having difficulties getting there. We’ve seen it across the county. There are very few regions that weren’t hit with this.”

Most schools in the Willamette Valley closed Wednesday, including some districts that had originally announced a two-hour delay.

As of 7:45 a.m. Wednesday, more than 36,000 customers were without power in Lane County. That includes people who were still without power from Saturday’s ice storm, and people who lost power during Tuesday evening’s ice storm.

Utilities say even as temperatures warm, they still face many obstacles to restoring service, including large trees that have closed roads.

“Last night we lost a lot of progress we had made,” said Jeff Jones, the general manager of Blachly-Lane County Electric Co-op in an update Wednesday morning. “We are back up to 1,600 people out of power. We expect restoration to take several days for our system. We ask people to stay off Highway 36 and 126 if possible. Crews will be in the roads making repairs.”

The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and Multnomah, Lincoln, Washington, and Hood River counties have each declared a local state of emergency. They are getting storm recovery help from the state, but haven’t met the threshold to unlock federal resources, the governor’s office said.

KLCC news director Chris M. Lehman contributed to this report.