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Some evacuees worry they can’t afford to rebuild lost homes under modern codes

Detroit mayor speaks with Redmond evacuees; older homes in logging-turned-resort town were 'grandfathered' in

REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- At the Super 8 Motel in Redmond on Sunday, smoke and worry filled the air, as anxious evacuees heard from the town of Detroit's mayor while they wait to learn if a wildfire destroyed their homes.

Charles Dunaway, who evacuated from McKenzie Bridge, said he heard that his home was spared by the Beachie Creek Fire, but he’s still waiting to see it for himself.

“Until we are able to get back up there, we are remaining hopeful, and our heart goes out to all the people that aren’t as fortunate," Dunaway said.

"And like I said, we don’t know for for sure if we were fortunate enough to not have our homes and livelihoods burned. So until then, we are just waiting for confirmation.” 

Detroit Mayor Jim Trett traveled to Redmond to speak with the evacuees on Sunday. While he was able to offer some information, many remain in the dark about the status of their home. 

The mayor told them he understands their frustration.

“The first time they call, they’re so anxious," he said. "Yesterday, I had a gentleman that I know fairly well who was just screaming at me for five minutes, stopped when he was through, then said, 'I’m sorry -- I know it’s not you,'" Trett recalled. "Then called me the next morning and apologized. I said, 'There’s nothing to apologize for.”

The mayor did offer the crowd hope at the end of his talk, explaining that the town is already looking at how they will rebuild.

However one rebuilding issue could be challenging for homeowners in the area. Many of the lost homes were older and essentially grandfathered in on their construction.

The mayor said for older homes that were destroyed, they would have to be built up to modern codes. That means, for some, completely new plumbing systems, as septic systems are no longer allowed.

The mayor said that's concerning for some residents in the area. 

"Detroit used to be a logging community, and that community paid family wage jobs," Trett said. "Now, we're a resort community, and some of those older folks are living on fairly limited income. And they do have concerns, because they know they’re under-insured, or they don’t have insurance."

The mayor said it could also mean a huge blow to the local business community, as some of those buildings would also have to be redesigned.

“We don’t have a big business community, but most of it with the exception of one store are gone, we believe," he said. "And so some of those may choose not to come back, because they have to make their whole profit in basically five months, and that’s getting hard to do.”

Trett said he has been discussing plans with the governor, as all involved look at the large rebuilding effort that lies ahead.

Central Oregon / Fire / Fire Alert / Government-politics / Redmond / Top Stories
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Blake Allen

Blake Allen is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.



  1. The smaller areas that burned are going to look totally different . The old homes in areas like Blue River had character and the town had a rustic feel to it. Now that all the old homes are gone, whatever gets built won’t have that same feel and character…
    I feel bad for those that had insurance, but won’t be able to afford to rebuild because of the changes in codes over the years. I can’t even imagine not having insurance on a home, so hopefully all of the homes had at least some level of insurance on them because even if they can’t afford to rebuild, at least they would have some money to get back on their feet again.
    The most cost effective way to get situated in the small towns would probably be manufactured homes but I don’t know what the restrictions are in those areas…

  2. Bureaucracy. Gotta love it. Looks like there will be some bargain property for the politically well connected and wealthy. And people still want government to run health care?

  3. It would seem to me that if the septic was grandfathered in then they should still be allowed to hook up to it. Granted, new build would have to be up to code as the house would be gone. But the septic was never destroyed so it should be accepted.

    1. Granted, the septic system is still in place, but I doubt if they would allow it to
      remain under the grandfathered clause if another home is built, or if someone moved in
      a manufactured home. I’m just guessing but I think because the actual house itself that was attached to the septic system when the grandfather clause was implemented no longer exists, that it would void the grandfathered exemption for future building.

      For example, if someone bought an old service station that still had the old metal inground fuel tanks that had been grandfathered for the previous owner, the grandfathered exemption would normally become void when a new owner purchases the property, and they
      would be responsible for the removal and updating of the tanks to meet current codes…
      The way I’ve always understood it is that a grandfathered exemption is a one time deal
      and can’t be passed on to future owners of property, but I’m certainly no expert, and I could be wrong.

      1. Correct about the gas stations. But in Oregon the grandfathering clause stays in effect as long as the original owners or direct family member still owns the property, If they sell it then the grandfathering clause is no longer in affect. Assuming that the original owners plan to return to their land, those clauses should still hold.

        1. Thanks for clarifying that. I didn’t know that’s how it is set up.
          It’s a good thing that I put in the disclaimer saying that I’m not an expert, and could be wrong in my above comment LOL…
          It makes sense that it is set up that way, and that’s the way it should be for the original property owner, but it’s no secret that a lot of Gov’t regulations don’t make sense.

  4. I think we’ll be seeing a number of financial aids coming from the state and federal governments as well as housing non-profits to help rebuild and to extend utilities to the destroyed areas.

    1. Federal assistance should be tied with voting restrictions. If you are a declared Demokrat- go to the back of the line- as your support for those buffoons is what has created this tinderbox in Oregon to begin with. If you are a displaced logger or mill-worker- jump to the front- with the state’s apologies for what their arrogant actions have created… that’s how you initiate “reparations” !

      1. Sounds like life hasn’t treated you as well as you would like, and you believe, like Bunker Baby, that domination is the answer. I think that you’re going to have a very unhappy life ahead of you.

        1. Once again Dumb Bunny (DB) concedes the discussion- as all he’s left with is a personal attack- no opinion on the story- no facts- no data… just anger and hate because some of us provide solutions to what ails the state… and it starts with removing and deep cleaning (like a virus) the forty plus years of Demokrap rule that has finally destroyed the state- inside and out- from all four corners.

          Vote GOP- Make Oregon “Liveable” Again ! MOLA !

          1. He didnt concede anything. He knows to never argue with an idiot because they will pull you down to their level and beat you with experience. And you are definitely the most experienced one here.
            (Credit to Twain)

      2. Amazing how your entire world view is dictated by your politics. Like EVERYTHING. Does it dictate what foods you buy? What kind of cars you buy? Do you see the political affiliations of the owners of companies before you get goods or services there?

      1. It will be interesting to see exactly what she means by that,and if anyone actually follows through with it. Unfortunately it has the feel of the typical response that politicians use to appease people without giving any details or committing to anything…

    1. I agree that the people affected by the fires will need help of some sort during the rebuilding process, and I also agree that there are some very stupid regulations.
      That said, they can’t just eliminate all of the codes and regulations to ease the process.
      There are certainly good reasons for some of the codes, otherwise people would just be throwing together homes that could potentially be death traps for those living in the homes, as well as people who live in close proximity…

  5. How about the local jurisdictions who control the building departments wave the permit fees for those who lost their homes to the fire and help residents? Probably not because government always demands their pound of flesh no mater what the tragedy is.

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