Government shutdown hits ground

Water planning, land use implications foreseen at county level

As the federal government shutdown stretches into its second week, its far-reaching impacts are becoming increasingly more apparent.

While much of the attention has been concentrated at how the shutdown affects operations at the federal level, the closure of federal agencies can have effects on county and local governments.

Hood River County Administrator David Meriwether sent out an email last week to department heads to see what the impact has been at the county level thus far.

Some of the headaches have been minor. At HRC Public Works, Director Mikel Diwan reported that “the Powerdale Land Action Committee was planning on meeting with a National Parks planner — for which a grant was approved — on the 15th, but then they shut down.” He added, however, that the planner informed him he “will be showing up anyway on his own time and just not get paid.”

At Budget and Finance, director Sandi Borrowy wrote she had been “trying to find an answer on how to draw down some federal funds on one of our programs.” When she emailed the contact person with the question, all she received was an auto-reply that “due to the shut down there would be no information response until they were back at work.”

At the Planning Department, the effects have been felt more directly. Director Mike Benedict wrote that the furloughing of Columbia Gorge National Scenic Area Forest Service employees “will hold up any land use applications in the National Scenic Area because they have to review certain parts of applications.”

The shutdown could also have financial implications for the department.

“The Water Planning Group has a $250,000 grant from the US Bureau of Reclamation; the Bureau is doing some very complex modeling for us. They are all non essential personnel and are on furlough, so the modeling stops for as long as they are out,” he explained in an email. “That also puts us in a bind with our Oregon WRD (Water Resources Department) grant of $250,000; that grant has a 10-percent holdback until such time that we supply them with the final grant report.”

Benedict said that if the shutdown continues and the Bureau of Reclamation personnel remain furloughed, the modeling won’t get done, which means the grant will be delayed and cause a “$25,000-hit in the budget,” due to the 10-percent holdback.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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