By Marcy Stamper
Room One has received almost $204,000 in donations to its fire-recovery fund since last summer and has set aside more than half to fill unmet needs of survivors.
As of Jan. 1, Room One had spent almost $33,000, most for immediate needs such as food and gas vouchers, emergency housing and moving expenses. The numbers were included in the first detailed tally released by Room One at the end of January.
The $132,000 earmarked for unmet needs will go primarily toward rebuilding (materials, site clean-up and construction estimates), tools and equipment, and weatherization. Those funds are distributed by a special roundtable that evaluates cases brought confidentially by four emergency case managers.
The case managers approach the roundtable only after they have exhausted all other options, including insurance, loan programs and volunteers, 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.
Thus far, the unmet-needs roundtable has assisted 13 individuals or households, providing grants averaging $2,000. These requests are expected to rise, both in number and dollar amount, in the spring as people start rebuilding. The groups anticipate up to 100 families seeking some type of assistance and requests ranging from $5,000 to $8,000, said Elana Mainer, Room One’s executive director.
Room One is only one of the participants in the roundtable, which meets almost weekly to review requests. It also includes representatives from The Cove, Okanogan County Community Action Council, the Community Foundation of North Central Washington, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Individual organizations will offer to cover a request that corresponds to the group’s funding parameters, said Moore.
In addition, Room One has devoted $42,000 from the recovery fund to pay salaries of the disaster case managers over the next several months. The Community Foundation of North Central Washington invested $100,000 from its general fund to employ the disaster case managers for their first half-year on the job, starting in October.
As of Jan. 1, the disaster case managers were working with 171 families, but their caseload is expected to increase as insurance claims are processed and additional needs are identified, said Mainer.
Room One is also spending donations on less tangible forms of support, such as counseling and financial planning for survivors.
Room One is one of several groups that received donations for fire survivors and these figures pertain only to their fund.
Overall, local charities raised about $1.4 million for fire relief and recovery, said Moore. As of late January, about $400,000 of that had been distributed, primarily for emergency needs and direct relief, including winter clothing.