Living ‘in a flammable state,’ FEMA offers wildfire resources

Wildfires

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As parts of Oregon continue to burn, survivors of last years’ 2020 wildfires are still receiving relief.

The Clackamas County Long Term Recovery Group is organizing a Wildfire Recovery & FEMA Re-engagement Event at Estacada High School this weekend through Monday to help connect survivors with much needed resources.

At the event, officials with FEMA reach out to applicants impacted by last years’ wildfires, offering the opportunity to go over the status of applications “face-to-face,” gauge what benefits survivors may qualify for, and answer questions.

“Every disaster is different, and every case within every disaster is different,” FEMA representative Jeremy Hollen told KOIN 6. “So, we have to be flexible as an agency and work with our state and local partners to make sure that everyone who is eligible for assistance is getting it.”

The timing of this event is critical, as Oregon continues to reel from unprecedented heat waves and early wildfires.

“We live in a flammable state and it’s continuing this year,” Hollen added. “We gotta make sure that these survivors, who have been living in hotels and temporary housing get what they need so they can get on with their recovery … and get ready for another crazy wildfire season.”

The event coincides with an effort on behalf of State Representatives Merkley and DeFazio to push FEMA for ‘maximum readiness’ for 2021 wildfire season. State leaders drafted a letter to FEMA Friday, July 14 which praised and acknowledged steps the agency has already taken in preparation for this season’s fired, followed by a list of pointed questions. 

KOIN 6 News asked Hollen if the agency felt ready for this years’ — already underway — wildfire season.

“This is what we do. Disasters are horrible, but we are prepared,” Hollen added. “We’ve already put out multiple FMAG’s (Fire Management Assistance Grants) to combat the fires before they reach structures and we continue to monitor every day. We have hundreds of people in Oregon right now, working on this disaster and we are as prepared as we can be. But a lot of the onus falls on Oregonians too. We have to be ready, have a plan, know what we’re going to do … and do it.”

The event in Estacada began Friday, July 16 and runs through Monday, July 19. This weekend, hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, the event will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude at 7 p.m.

FEMA disaster case managers will be on-site to connect with survivors and the Clackamas County Long-Term Recovery Group will be providing resources for those impacted by the wildfires who have not registered. 

All are welcome to attend, no appointment necessary. 

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