Agencies responsible for returning internet and other telecommunications to the McKenzie River Valley after the Holiday Farm Fire have been recognized for their efforts.
The Lane County Technology Services Department and Oregon Internet Response, a volunteer group of tech professionals, received the Award for Excellence in Telecommunications Projects and Regional Strategies at the annual Oregon Connections Telecommunications Technology Conference in late October.
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Oregon Internet Response formed and collaborated with Lane County Technology Services and Emergency Management to bring telecommunications back to the McKenzie River Valley following the 2020 Holiday Farm Fire, according to a news release. The fire, which burned 174,000 acres, destroyed more than 400 homes and claimed one life, decimated telecommunications equipment throughout much of the river valley.
The group brought together multiple resources and partners to create microwave links supplying bandwidth into the fire area, which served emergency, school, medical, business and public connectivity needs while commercial providers conducted repairs.
Michael Finch, Lane County’s Chief Information Officer and leader of the Technology Services Department, accepted the award on behalf of Lane County and OIR.
“The ability to communicate and access the Internet is absolutely critical in the aftermath of a disaster,” Finch said in the release. “Without this essential work, tasks as simple as pumping gas, checking email or keeping connected with a child’s education during COVID would have been impossible.
“The work that OIR, Lane County and other partners did to bring connectivity back to the McKenzie Valley has helped set the state for the area’s recovery.”
Contact reporter Adam Duvernay at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @DuvernayOR.