Oregon Governor Says Gorge Economic Recovery Will Take Months

By Ericka Cruz Guevarra (OPB)
Cascade Locks, Oregon Sept. 29, 2017 9:44 p.m.
Gov. Kate Brown visits Waucoma Books in downtown Hood River.

Gov. Kate Brown visits Waucoma Books in downtown Hood River.

Ericka Cruz Guevarra / OPB

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said Friday she thinks it'll take several months for businesses in the Columbia River Gorge to recover from the Eagle Creek Fire.


Some business owners said sales dropped 40 to 70 percent because of the blaze, which was still burning nearby as of Friday.

"It's gonna take some time," Brown said. "I've asked every state agency head to come forward with solutions."

Brown, who announced this week she plans to run for re-election, said she's initiating an economic recovery council to assist with efforts in the Gorge. It will be chaired by Rep. Mark Johnson, R-Hood River.

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In Hood River, Brown stopped inside Stave and Stone Winery on Oak Street, where tasting room Manager Rhonda Schrock said the smoke got so bad they had to close early on "music night," which usually is a big business draw for the company.

"Even this last weekend, we had the lowest numbers yet this season, which was really really disappointing," Schrock said. "People still weren't coming out."

Brown said she's been talking with legislative leaders about how to help the businesses.

"We're scouring every tool in the toolkit," Brown said.

Muir Cohen, who owns Waucoma Books in downtown Hood River, said September is usually a transition period before the holidays, but the fire caused an unexpected drop in business.

"We had local customers coming in to try and help out and shop, but it was tough walking out there with all that smoke you know," Cohen said.

In the meantime, Cohen said he's hopeful and surprised by how many cars were parked outside Friday. He said he hopes people will come back to shop.

The Eagle Creek Fire has burned more than 48,000 acres in the Gorge, and fire officials announced Friday they don't expect full containment until Nov. 30.