Results of the forest fire damage at Blue River, Oregon
Results of the forest fire damage at Blue River, Oregon

Where: Blue River, McKenzie Valley, Lane County, Oregon
(4th Congressional District)

Problem: Small rural communities struggle to obtain the emergency funding required to replace critical infrastructure destroyed by wildfires.

Solution: Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) provided technical assistance that allowed the city to access FEMA emergency funds.


Blue River, Oregon
Blue River, Oregon

Blue River is an unincorporated community of about 850 residents in the McKenzie River Valley of Lane County, Oregon. From September to October 2020, the Holiday Farm Fire devastated the town and other riverside communities in the valley. The community-run Blue River Water District (BRWD), which had been operating since 1967, provided water supplied by a single well to about 105 active connections serving approximately 233 people. Most of the district’s infrastructure had not seen significant upgrades in over half a century when the fire struck, virtually destroying it along with countless homes, businesses and other public facilities.

The ashes were still hot when RCAC staff arrived in Blue River to provide technical assistance to the community to begin restoring its water system. The project’s main objective was to help the city file the paperwork needed to apply for a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance Grant. For the next 14 months, RCAC staff attended weekly interagency meetings and worked closely with BRWD staff to identify damage or destruction that insurance did not cover. Detailed damage inventories were submitted to FEMA to meet federal documentation requirements and ensure the eligibility of grant claims.

FEMA ultimately issued funds to BRWD that compensated it for expenses not covered by insurance, namely damage to the water distribution system. RCAC staff continue to assist Blue River Water District with various operational and regulatory tasks as the community navigates a challenging road to recovery.

For more information, contact:
Ari Neumann, director
Community & Environmental Services
(916) 447-9832 ext. 1032


Also in this issue:

RCAC Loan Fund closes 36 loans in seven western states

During its fiscal year 2023 first quarter, Rural Community Assistance Corporation (RCAC) closed 36 loans, which totaled $7,499,147, in Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Washington. These loans supported 923 individual water and wastewater connections for rural citizens; 386 housing units; and created or retained 326 jobs. Read more