PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Clackamas County organization is looking forward to helping wildfire survivors with its first large donation. 

The Clackamas County Long-Term Recovery Group recently set up its fiscal sponsorship and received its first large relief grant of $10,000 from Blue Mountain Community Management, an Associa company based in Beaverton. 

“It’s getting us off the ground and getting things moving and helping us get things like permits set up and initial site plans built for when homes are ready to be starting to be rebuilt,” said Kimberlee Ables, communications chair for the Clackamas County Long-Term Recovery Group. 

Ables said the Clackamas County Long-Term Recovery Group formed in November 2020, after the Riverside Fire damaged and destroyed dozens of homes in the county. In its first months, the group primarily functioned as a volunteer organization. But now that they’ve established a fiscal sponsorship, meaning donations made to the group are tax-deductible, they’re gladly accepting donations. 

Gabe Tatz, Blue Mountain Community Management vice president, said the company has seen firsthand the impact that the wildfire season had on communities across Oregon. 

“When the opportunity to work with the Home Builders Association [of Metropolitan Portland] to assist residents in Clackamas County presented itself, our team was compelled by the long-term housing recovery need,” he said in a statement. “This type of assistance falls in line with our philanthropic mission to support stronger communities.” 

The Clackamas County Long-Term Recovery Group says it’s trying to assist the owners of 72 properties in the county that were damaged by the fire. The state of Oregon says in Clackamas County 62 homes were destroyed. 

The Boden family in Estacada lost one of their 2 homes in the Riverside Fire, but now have no water, September 21, 2020 (KOIN)

The group is made up of volunteers, community members, and non-profit organizations, and wants to continue assisting wildfire survivors in the region for the next 3 to 4 years. 

Although it’s been nearly 9 months since the Riverside Fire impacted the area, Ables said a lot of people are still in need. 

“It may not be an immediate thing in front of folks’ faces right now, but there’s a lot of people who still need our help and who still are working to recover and build back and they had the compounding disasters between COVID and the wildfires and then the ice storms on top of that,” she said. 

The long-term recovery group is assisting people with Federal Emergency Management Agency applications and insurance claims, finding local resources, rebuilding efforts, and connecting people with spiritual and emotional support. 

“We just kind of want to make sure that folks have a place that they know they can go. It’s 100% free, all of the assistance we provide,” Ables said. 

She said the group is looking for more ways to receive aid from FEMA or the state of Oregon. 

With the high lumber prices right now, she said the group is also helping property owners consider alternative materials they can use for rebuilding. 

Clackamas County Long-Term Recovery Group is also using its Facebook page to remind followers that May and June are the months when they should be preparing their home for fire season, removing hazards, and creating defensible space. Ables said it’s one way they can help build a resilient community. 

“So if this does happen again, we’re ready, we’re prepared,” she said. 

While Ables appreciates the recent $10,000 donation, she knows it will not be enough to help the dozens of families in need. She said anyone else interested in donation should visit ClackCares.org for more information. Any wildfire survivors in need of support or assistance can also find contact information on the website.