Wildfire Relief Fund Helps Recovering OR Communities
Monday, February 15, 2021
PORTLAND, Ore. -- The 2020 wildfires devastated Oregon communities, burning more than a million acres and destroying homes.
Grants from the AARP Foundation are helping some Oregonians get back on their feet.
Noreen Dunnells, president and CEO of the United Way of Lane County, which received one of the grants, said the September fires displaced 1,200 people in the community and the blazes were unpredictable, taking some houses and leaving others intact.
"There's a lot of people who are grieving and there's survivors' guilt for those who didn't lose their property, or lost part of it but still are living upriver," Dunnells observed. "It's had a profound effect on individuals and families living in that community."
Dunnells emphasized her organization has pivoted toward helping local people community rebuild.
The AARP Foundation's Wildfire Relief Fund has given $100,000 to the Center for Nonprofit Legal Services in Jackson County, and $50,000 each to the United Ways of Jackson County and Lane County.
Bandana Shrestha, director of community engagement for AARP Oregon, said seniors were hit hard by the fires.
"Older adults and people with disabilities are disproportionately impacted by disasters, and the wildfires were no exception," Shrestha explained. "We've heard so many stories about how older adults, for instance, in the city of Talent and Phoenix were displaced because of the fires."
In Jackson County, more than 1,000 people were displaced and mobile homes, apartment complexes, subdivisions and a senior assisted-living facility burned down.
The United Way of Jackson County's first round of applications for relief helped more than 800 families, with nearly $2 million in grants.
Dee Anne Everson, executive director for the group, said they've received donations from all 50 states and five countries.
"The devastation we suffered has been remarkable," Everson acknowledged. "And in direct conjunction with that, the generosity has been equally remarkable."
The AARP Foundation raised $1 million to help communities respond to disasters in 2020 across the country.
Disclosure: AARP Oregon contributes to our fund for reporting on Consumer Issues, Health Issues, Livable Wages/Working Families, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
get more stories like this via email
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Climate activists are praising Gov. Gavin Newsom for signing a $15 billion climate action package Thursday, but argued he …
BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- Some New Yorkers are voicing concerns about the creation of not one, but two draft maps for congressional, State Senate and …
LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan advocates for children and families are praising many of the investments in the 2022 state budget passed this week…
SALT LAKE CITY -- A researcher at the University of Utah said plans for generating renewable energy should include a power source right under our feet…
CHICAGO -- Advocates for immigrants and refugees in Illinois traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to push for a pathway to citizenship for up to …
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas produces more rice than any other state, and a new grant will help farmers explore ways to transition the industry to …
BISMARCK, N.D. -- North Dakota lawmakers in charge of redistricting have approved a preliminary draft of new legislative boundaries, but voters' …
SANTA FE, N.M. -- A New Mexico legislator is optimistic a bill will pass in the 2022 session to prohibit life sentences for juveniles convicted of …