Clatsop County commissioners approved an agreement Wednesday with a private company that will facilitate mass shelters in the event of a disaster such as the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake and tsunami.
The agreement with GFP Enterprises details how the company would respond to a predesignated mass shelter site in a large open area and set up a shelter for people who are unable to live in their homes for a prolonged period of time. The company would also provide services like food, water, showers and laundry. The Sisters-based company has responded to disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Isaac.
“By the time you activate this contract, you’re going to want us there yesterday. That’s just the way it is,” said Donald R. Pollard, the company’s chief operating officer. “There’s no water. There’s no power. Sewer systems aren’t working. We bring all of that.”
Before approving the agreement unanimously, Commissioner Lianne Thompson expressed concerns over the potential costs. The county will not pay any money until a catastrophic disaster strikes and the company’s services are needed. If a disaster occurs, quotes from the company for a 1,000-person shelter, for instance, include nearly $70,000 for construction and deconstruction and more than $875,000 in operations costs per week.
While the county could request help through state and federal partners during a catastrophe, it would improve effectiveness and timeliness dramatically to have an agreement already in place, Emergency Service Manager Tiffany Brown said. It would also allow the county to incorporate the company in its plans for a large-scale disaster.
“The disaster is going to be expensive,” Brown said.
In other business Wednesday night, commissioners:
• Unanimously passed a resolution to work cooperatively toward the cleanup of an oil spill near the Cannery Pier Hotel. The hotel owned the tank that leaked the oil, though management says it had no previous knowledge of its existence.
The Port of Astoria and Astoria City Council passed similar resolutions, and none of them make any financial commitments.
• Approved a budget adjustment allowing the Fair & Expo to use $100,000 of its contingency money over the next four months. The fair had used nearly all of its maintenance and services budget — roughly $438,000 — in the first half of fiscal year.