The group working on permits to dredge McKay Creek this winter to prevent a flood during the next high-water season is also looking to the distant future. The task force is made up of officials from Pendleton and Umatilla County, the water districts, and residents living on the creek.
County Commissioner John Shafer said the group is working to persuade the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help fund an in-depth mapping and study designed to answer several questions.
“What happens when the snow and rain come,” Shafer said is one of the questions. “Where does the water start and then how does it get from the headwaters to the dam, and then down into McKay Creek and that whole area? That’s going to be a pretty spendy venture.”
When a disaster declaration was issued by President Trump, it made the area eligible for disaster relief funding. Shafer said that it breaks down to FEMA paying 75 percent of any infrastructure projects. He says the group believes that means the agency should pay the bulk of the costs since the creek itself is infrastructure.
“It’s protecting property owners,” he said. “It’s protecting homes. We’re providing a service for flood control.”