Emergency Law Inventory | Full Law Text

Law Number

ORS 401.178

Summary Title

Liability: Removal Disaster Debris or Wreckage


When an emergency declaration is in effect, an individual who enters private lands or waters to participate in debris removal efforts at the direction of the governor will not be held legally responsible. They can be held legally responsible if acting with extreme carelessness or intent to cause harm.

Full Title

Removal of disaster debris or wreckage; unconditional authorization of community; liability for injury or damage

Full Text

(1) Whenever the Governor has declared a disaster emergency to exist under the laws of this state, or the President of the United States, at the request of the Governor, has declared a major disaster or emergency to exist in this state, the Governor is authorized: (a) Through the use of state departments or agencies, or the use of any of the state’s instrumentalities, to clear or remove from publicly or privately owned land or water, debris and wreckage which may threaten public health or safety, or public or private property. (b) To accept funds from the federal government and utilize such funds to make grants to any political subdivision for the purpose of removing debris or wreckage from publicly or privately owned land or water. (2) Authority under subsection (1) of this section shall not be exercised unless the affected political subdivision, corporation, organization, or individual shall first present an unconditional authorization for removal of such debris or wreckage from public and private property and, in the case of removal of debris or wreckage from private property, shall first agree to indemnify the state government against any claim arising from such removal. (3) Whenever the Governor provides for clearance of debris or wreckage pursuant to subsections (1) and (2) of this section, employees of the designated state agencies or individuals appointed by the Governor are authorized to enter upon private lands or waters and perform any tasks necessary to the removal or clearance operation. (4) Except in cases of willful misconduct, gross negligence or bad faith, any state employee or individual appointed by the Governor authorized to perform duties necessary to the removal of debris or wreckage shall not be liable for death of or injury to persons or damage to property.