By Marcy Stamper
Organizations working on fire relief and recovery have released updated tallies for the people they have helped and their current fundraising levels.
The long-term recovery organizations in the county see two stages of assistance — relief (the first six months) and recovery, according to Adrianne Moore, prevention coordinator at Room One and a board member of Methow Valley Long Term Recovery and the countywide Carlton Complex Long Term Recovery Group.
Immediately after the fire, money was given directly to people with urgent needs such as food, gas and moving expenses, said Moore. Even after the initial crisis was over, this type of assistance has continued for things such as winter clothing, winterization, snowplowing and first month’s rent or security deposits, said Moore.
About $400,000 has already been spent on this direct relief. Moore contrasted it with costs connected with the second phase of long-term recovery, most of which will begin in the spring when more people start rebuilding.
Overall, local charities have raised about $1.4 million for fire relief and recovery for individuals and families, said Moore. This does not include some additional funds raised for business and economic development or staffing, she said.
There is about $600,000 left from the original $1.4 million, and much of this will be dispensed through the unmet-needs roundtable, a group of local and national charities that responds to needs that cannot be filled by other programs or volunteer organizations. Some of the monies may be spent on construction supplies and equipment that can be used for more than one family, said Moore.
The unmet-needs roundtable has been meeting almost weekly since November and has helped 12 families so far, with an average award of $2,000, said Moore. (These figures clarify earlier reports that combined the unmet-needs grants with other aid, which implied that the roundtable had given out more than it has.)
The primary focus of the unmet-needs group will be recovery, to help with expenses such as utility hook-ups or rebuilding costs that may not be covered elsewhere.
The roundtable consists of representatives from Room One, The Cove, Okanogan County Community Action Council, the Community Foundation of North Central Washington, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
To date, the various organizations working with fire survivors have distributed 527 vouchers or other forms of direct relief, most in fairly small amounts. This number covers the three months before case managers were hired and may include some duplicates, as people may have received help more than once, said Moore. Moore estimates that they helped 300 families during this phase.
In counting the people they have helped, the recovery teams are using the term “families” to describe either an individual or a family group.
Since the case managers started in October, they have assisted 171 families with a range of needs, including financial assistance and help from volunteers, said Moore. In addition to assistance with housing and debris removal, case managers are helping people with insurance claims and with finding trauma counselors.
Based on experiences in other disaster-affected areas, the national partners predict that about one-third — or 100 families — will come to the unmet-needs roundtable for assistance with rebuilding, said Moore.
Another part of the transition to long-term recovery is a shift to countywide efforts. As a result, Methow Valley Long Term Recovery will no longer need its own executive director and Hank Cramer’s three-month contract as the group’s director has ended. Cramer is now playing a support role as a volunteer, said Moore.
The Carlton Complex Long Term Recovery Group is in the process of hiring for the rebuilding process. They are looking for two volunteer coordinators and a reconstruction manager.
Learn about long-term recovery efforts
The Pateros/Brewster Long Term Recovery Organization welcomes everyone to attend a meeting to learn about everything from land-use and restoration activities; government, economic and business issues; mental and behavior health resources; schools; public safety; and fire relief funds. Case managers will be available to answer questions and to accept new cases. People can also sign up to volunteer.
The meeting is Tuesday (Jan. 27) from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Pateros School library. For more information, call Carlene Anders at (509) 733-0318.