UPDATE: Brown says declaration will help recover from storms' 'numerous hardships'

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP FILE PHOTO - High water spilled onto Gresham streets during the early December storms. President Obama has signed a disaster declaration for 12 Oregon counties, including Multnomah, that were hit by the storms.President Obama signed Wednesday a disaster declaration for a dozen Oregon counties hard hit by December’s powerful storms.

The declaration means that federal funds would be available for state and local recovery work in Clatsop, Columbia, Coos, Curry, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Washington and Yamhill counties.

A line of roaring storms slammed into the region during the second week of December, bringing heavy rain, floods, landslides, knocking out power and toppling trees. A sinkhole devoured a section of Gresham’s Northeast Kane Drive. The storm also produced an EF1 tornado that blasted through Battle Ground, Wash.

Then came cold air, dropping about an inch of snow and freezing rain on the region.

By the time the storms sputtered out, the Willamette Valley had seen the wettest December on record, with about 13.4 inches of rain falling during the month.

On Dec. 10, Gov. Kate Brown declared an emergency in 13 counties at the request of local officials. Brown asked the President for help after the storms blasted the state.

“This federal declaration will help Oregon recover from numerous hardships caused by this destructive event,” Brown said Thursday in a statement.

By the time the first rain storms blew through, the Willamette Valley was drenched with more than 3 inches of rain. About 3 to 7 inches of rain fell in the Coast Range and the Cascades. Several inches of snow also fell in the mountains, with Government Camp getting 9 inches in 12 hours. Johnson Creek and Fanno Creek overflowed their banks, with high water blocking several local streets.

More than 224 American Red Cross volunteers opened 11 shelters during two stormy weeks, providing overnight stays for more than 300 people and serving 12,000 meals to people hit by the storm.

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