In addition to the major recession that hit during his first term, Governor Atiyeh faced several other crises in office. On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted just 52 miles from downtown Portland. Ash fell across northwest Oregon, leading the governor to declare a state of emergency.
The rise of the "Rajneeshpuram," a cultlike utopian community, presented a different type of problem. Its several thousand residents attempted to form their own quasi-state within rural Wasco County, openly undermining local authorities. See the special exhibit on the Rajneeshpuram crisis .
The state also dealt with continuing concerns over the Hanford Nuclear Waste Repository site.