County Forms New Emergency Preparedness Council in Wake of Repeated Disasters

In the past 18 months, Clackamas County has weathered three federally declared disasters, including destructive wildfires that raged last September, an ice storm that left thousands of rural residents without power for weeks in February, and a historic heat wave that killed a dozen county residents.

Evidently, county leaders have gotten the hint — voting on Thursday to form a new Emergency Preparedness Council to strengthen community engagement around emergency preparedness and provide community input around specific aspects of planning for and response to all types of hazards.

“Responding to emergencies takes a community effort,” Clackamas County Board Chair Tootie Smith. “We are grateful to our residents who will work alongside us to prepare in advance of and respond to disasters in Clackamas County.”

Council members will also review after-action reports following disasters and address any identified gaps or areas of improvement that would benefit from additional community involvement.

The county says council members will be drawn from a variety of key partners, including community planning organizations, utility partners such as Portland General Electric, local business owners, tourism industry representatives, nonprofit leaders, local city officials and county commissioners.

This council will meet quarterly and the community members will be appointed following a countywide application process announced at a later date.

The county also announced Tuesday that officials continue to collaborate with PGE in disaster planning, including strategic power shut-offs.

“The historic nature and impact of weather events this past year have made clear the need for strong partnerships to ensure preparedness and resiliency planning,” said Maria Pope, PGE president and CEO. “PGE commends Chair Smith for her leadership and looks forward to engaging with leaders on this council for the benefit of the people of Clackamas County.”

PGE and the Bonneville Power Administration assisted local fire agencies in briefly shutting down transmission lines last week after a brush fire broke out along Highway 99E between Canby and Oregon City.

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