People, Property and Cows in Tillamook Count
Oregon County Learns Value of Partnership with Federal Government
principles developed over the last few years at the federal, state
and local levels has reaped astonishing rewards for the people of
Tillamook County, Oregon, according to County Commissioner Sue Cameron.
that in the 1999 flood, county, state and federal governments avoided
$50 million in flood damages compared to a similar flood in 1996.
"The reasons are clear," she said. "The success came from a partnership
of County officials, Senator Ron Wyden, state and federal agencies
and citizens working together to reduce economic and emotional damage
in Tillamook County caused by recurrent floods."
fellow Commissioner Gina Firman, in February, 1996 Tillamook County
experienced a torrential flood which left the County devastated
with $53 million in uncompensated losses, 700 dairy cows killed,
families displaced, homes and businesses destroyed,. Federal costs
to cover some damage reached $8 million. This was a disastrous blow
for a county of 25,000, with an average per capita annual income
of only $18,000.
flood, County officials met with citizens and federal and state
agencies to determine ways to prevent future disasters. Experienced
with the partnership approach through her long-time involvement
with a federal-state partnership called the Oregon Option, Commissioner
Cameron contacted federal officials in Vice President Gore's National
Partnership for Reinventing Government (NPR) and proposed that all
parties work together to achieve the results badly needed in the
was selected as a demonstration Community Federal Information Project,
an initiative to increase local access to geographic information
to support community decision-making for public safety, land use
and other issues. The geographic information system (GIS) being
developed by this project, with the support of the Federal Geographic
Data Committee and NPR, helped the community select the sites for
next was a textbook example of a performance partnership," said
Cameron. She said the Federal Emergency Management Agency's innovative
approach to build Disaster Resistant communities through Project
Impact was a focal point that helped mobilize the community.
"With the assistance
of Senator Ron Wyden, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers then stepped
up to the plate with an offer of temporary flood mitigation in the
rivers through their Advance Measures Program," explained Commissioner
Firman. "And the Department of Housing and Urban Development provided
funding to elevate 55 homes and 14 businesses; we elevated the whole
town of Nehalem," she said. "Five cow pads were also constructed
to rescue stranded cows during flooding."
And the next
flood came: on Thanksgiving Day, 1999 9.1 inches of rain fell once
again in 48 hours, mirroring the 1996 deluge. This time, however,
the partners were ready. "Damages were reduced by 96 percent, and
the people of the County were overjoyed that not a single cow died,"
Firman said. It was the holiday shopping season, and because more
merchants had more warning, they were able to save their merchandise
and dramatically reduce business losses." She added, "not one elevated
home was flooded."
County team with its many partners received Vice President
Gores Hammer Award on June 26, 2000, along with teams from
five other communities who demonstrated the use of GIS.
is sold on partnerships," said Cameron. "We're all very much believers
in reinventing government and the good that can come from the partnership
products can turn raw data about populations, highways, biological
resources, disease, the environment, and crime statistics into understandable
maps or displays that can support community planning. An example
is where to develop flood control and where to protect specific
property, as in Tillamook County.
Partnership for Reinventing Government
the Way to the 21st Century
a March 6, 2000, press release
Commissioners Sue Cameron and Gina Firman