Friday, January 29, 2016

Pendleton City Council to consider turning Eastern Oregon Regional Airport (KPDT) into support center

Redmond's airport is only designated disaster response center in Oregon.

When the “big one” hits, Steve Chrisman wants the Eastern Oregon Regional Airport prepared to help.

On Tuesday, the Pendleton City Council will consider a recommendation by the airport director to pursue the designation of the airport as an official Disaster Emergency Response and Support Center.

In recent years, scientists have predicted that a massive earthquake along the Cascadia fault could happen at any time. The earthquake and ensuing tsunami would have a disastrous effect on dozens of communities west of the Cascade Mountains.

The state has already designated the Redmond Municipal Airport as its support center in such event, but Chrisman thinks the move would still behoove Pendleton.

“Redmond has a very robust airport, but in many ways it is an odd choice, not the least of which because it is difficult to reach by car or truck,” he wrote in a report to the city council. “Staff sees a need for the State to at least have a secondary option, in case Redmond is damaged or overwhelmed.”

Chrisman goes on to list almost two dozen reasons Pendleton would make a good place for a support center, including plenty of venues and wheat fields where organizers can set up staging areas, the presence of the Life Flight Network at the airport, its central location to major metro areas and its “incredibly stable geology.”

Chrisman also sees a potential economic development opportunity.

“(B)y making our interest known, we may put ourselves in line for State and Federal funds for conducting trainings, mock exercises and possibly storage of equipment and supplies,” he wrote “All of those would have direct benefits to dining and lodging and support services.”

The meeting will be at the council chambers in city hall, 500 S.W. Dorion Avenue, Tuesday at 7 p.m.


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