Gorge business owners desperate for relief after wildfire, highw - KPTV - FOX 12

Gorge business owners desperate for relief after wildfire, highway closures

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COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE, OR (KPTV) -

It’s been more than two weeks since Interstate 84 and Highway 30 shut down because of the Eagle Creek Fire and business owners in the area are desperate for some financial relief.

At Shirley’s Tippy Canoe in Troutdale, customers hovered over steaming bowls of clam chowder and toasted sandwiches Wednesday, keeping the staff on their toes. A real lunch-time rush like this is exactly what owner Shirley Welton has been praying for.

“This is the first day like this in probably three weeks,” said Welton. “Yeah, it’s been really rough.”

Welton’s restaurant is on the banks on the Sandy River, on Highway 30. The road is open there and the evacuation warnings are long gone. But Welton says people are still wary of coming to this area and the proof is in her books.

“Well, probably about $35,000 to $40,000 difference in sales in the same amount of time," Welton said.

The Menucha Retreat Center in Corbett has lost close to $50,000 in revenue since the Eagle Creek Fire flared up. 

Just down the road, Patrick Oldright at the Corbett Country Market has even laid off one of his employees.

“Everyone I talk to is sympathetic,” said Oldright. “The sheriff’s department is sympathetic, but nobody can do anything.”

Oldright is upset that Crown Point and the Portland Women’s Forum are still closed—despite being far away from the fire zone. Without those attractions to draw in visitors, Oldright’s store is suffering.

“If this goes on another month, it’s going to hurt worse," Oldright said.

Welton is trying to stay focused on putting good food out and getting the word out that businesses in the gorge need your help.

“It’s been hard. I mean, it’s something you don’t count on," said Welton.

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