Homeowners hit hard by winds, rain and a large landslide, damaging three homes and possibly four others on the north side of NE 70th, gathered at Newport City Hall to learn how to get their lives back to normal. But it didn’t sound like it would happen anytime real soon for any of them.
Seven homes were affected – one slid all the way down the hill toward Schooner Creek; another lost its garage down the same slide; and another lost just about all of its back yard. Those three homes appear to be goners. Further west down the street four other homes appear to be okay but their owners will not be allowed to move back in until a geologic technician certifies the homes are safe enough.
As for any immediate assistance for homeowners, chances look grim, according to officials, because although it’s a natural disaster for these particular homeowners, there aren’t enough homes, affected by the storm county-wide, to trigger a formal disaster designation by FEMA – the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Under federal law, unless its a tornado, hurricane, major flood or earthquake causing MASSIVE DAMAGE across a LARGE AREA, FEMA doesn’t usually step in with grants and low interest loans to help families rebuild. And generally, we’re told, homeowner’s insurance does NOT cover landslides. They cover sink-holes – but not landslides.
City and county officials pledged to the 7 homeowners to offer any assistance that can legally be offered – but they admitted it isn’t much. But what they can offer is an abundance of knowledgeable guidance to direct homeowners to whatever assistance might be available. Public Works Director Tim Gross, a professional engineer, said he cannot act as a consultant to recommend repairs or other technical advice, but he can help point homeowners to those who can accurately assess each home and lot’s exact situation and where to get answers to their questions.
City Manager Spencer Nebel told the crowd that although City Hall may not be able to help financially, it can huddle with neighbors on matters of moral support, loan applications, mental health services to deal with the extraordinary stress they’re going through and generally to provide informed guidance through the bureaucratic maze as they navigate their difficult journey toward a resolution of their great challenge.
For the four homeowners who might be able to move back into their homes, the city and county will help them locate certified geologic technicians to assess and certify that their homes are safe to return to. City and county officials also pledged to help the four homeowners determine whether their homes’ location might qualify them for an immediate reduction in their property taxes and to help walk them through that process.
In total, it’s the beginning of a journey for these families with city and county officials helping them to discover all their options from any and all services that can help them.
From their neighbors, locally and across the city of Newport, there is talk of setting up a fundraising “Go Fund Me” page on the internet. It is a very effective way to reach many people with big hearts and lots of good will who will donate money to those who need it the most. NewsLincolnCounty.com will certainly offer its services, free of charge, to alert everyone in Lincoln and Benton Counties, Eugene and the Portland area, of the great need that these families have in order to put their lives back together.
So everyone! Stay close to NewsLincolnCounty.com as we await word on when this very helpful fundraiser may begin.