Linn County Commissioners Roger Nyquist and Will Tucker escorted congressional staff around Albany and Scio on Friday to inspect damage caused by flooding.
Nyquist said Juine Chada, field representative for Sen. Ron Wyden, and Nick Batz, district director for Rep. Peter DeFazio, “wanted to see what was going on so they could be familiar with some of these places as requests start to come through for aid.”
Chada and Batz would not comment to the Democrat-Herald on their observations, referring any questions to official spokesmen for the senator and representative.
Their first stop was Belmont Avenue S.W. off Highway 99E in Albany, where the street is closed because of damage done by high water.
Next was Periwinkle Creek at Mega Foods, where Cathy Sue McLaughlin, 18, and her son, 20-month-old Aiden, died Jan. 18 after the car they were in was swept into the creek. The driver, Chris Wilgus, 24, survived and his 5-year-old son, Maliki, remains in critical condition at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland.
Nyquist told Chada and Batz what was known about how the car got into the creek and what happened afterward.
The group then visited the home of Daniel and Arlene Smith at 38242 Goar Road near the Gilkey Bridge outside Scio. Bank erosion threatens the couple’s shop and deck.
Smith said high water from Thomas Creek carved away about an acre of his land. Tucker told the tour he was in touch with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to get Smith some financial help. He needs rip rap to keep the bank from eroding further.
Jason Whitehead, a nearby farmer, said about 12 acres of his farmland washed downstream last week. He also lost part of his three-year-old filbert orchard.
The group then drove to downtown Scio, where members walked along Main Street.
Terrie Morgan, co-owner of the Covered Bridge Coffee House, told Nyquist she cannot reopen for at least a month. The carpet has been removed, the food given away and now she is waiting to find out what help she will get from the company that insures the building.
Todd Miller, the executive director at Oregon Connections Academy, said his building is unusable, so his operation moved to a room donated by the Scio School District.
Nyquist then took the group to Stalhbush Island Farms east of Corvallis while Tucker stayed in Scio to attend a briefing at city hall with city officials and representatives from several state agencies.
That group then took its own tour of downtown Scio.
Among those on hand were Bobby Lee from the governor’s office, Bill Ferber of the Water Resources Department, Tim Potter from the Oregon Department of Transportation and Christine Shirley from the Department of Land Conservation and Development.
Fritz Graham, field representative for Wyden, also was there.