A message and list of wildfire resources from Representative Pam Marsh of District 5 – Southern Jackson County:

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

It is Monday, and Day 6 after the horrific events that swept through our Valley last week. This post summarizes key information I know at this moment.

Fire impact
We know the fires took a devastating toll, but an inventory of loss is yet to come. At least a dozen manufactured home and RV parks were destroyed, including more than 1,500 homes.  Added to that are apartment units and many single family homes. Thousands of individuals and families, all treasured members of our community, lost their homes.

Initial reports suggest that 80% of families at Phoenix Elementary and 50% at Talent Elementary may have lost their homes.

In addition to the residential loss, businesses up and down Hwy 99 from just north of Valley View in Ashland through Phoenix were victim to the inferno. These are the small businesses at the heart of Talent and Phoenix, owned and managed by our friends and neighbors.

The Oregon State Fire Marshall has turned responsibility for ongoing management over to local fire entities and recovery and assessment of the fire’s impact are starting. Federal, state and local officials are working together on a recovery plan. Escorts will continue to run people into the area. Please note that this phase will last days and probably weeks.

The fire area in Talent and Phoenix is being constantly evaluated to see what areas can be safely opened.  We are expecting additional National Guard troops to arrive today, and Sheriff Sickler is optimistic that that will enable him to open up additional areas and allow families to return home.

Jackson County Expo continues to function as the region’s primary daytime and 24-hour shelter for individuals displaced by the Almeda, South Obenchain, and Slater fires.

Efforts are underway to develop a comprehensive social service center on site so that individuals and families can access all needed services at a single location. Services already present include mental health supports, insurance counseling, spiritual support, and donated hygiene supplies/bedding. The Talent-Phoenix School District. is operating an activity center to occupy children while parents seek help and is working onsite to connect families with school services and other assistance.

By Tuesday, more agencies will have services present, including Rogue Community Health, La Clinica, ACCESS, Family Nurturing Center, and others. The Expo is also working with the DMV to expedite replacement of lost identification.

The initial request for emergency declaration that was submitted by the Governor and approved by the federal government enables FEMA to fund firefighting support, damage assessment, search and rescue, shelter, and other expenses related to the initial response.  Shelter funding may cover both congregate expenses (as at the Expo) and non-congregate (short term motel vouchers) facilities

On Tuesday, Governor Brown is expected to submit a request for a major disaster declaration.  If/when approved by the president, this would open the door to support for individuals and families, possibly including long term rent vouchers and repair and replacement money.

There is much speculation, but no answer, as to when or whether FEMA will bring in trailers to house displaced residents.

Clean up
The best information I have right now is that clean up will be coordinated and managed by an appropriate incident team. Please note that fire debris is highly toxic. Older manufactured homes may exude asbestos and other hazardous materials. As hard as it is to stay away from your home site, please minimize contact with all fire remains. Stay tuned for more information about clean up.

Water service has been restored Talent and Phoenix, but residents are advised to boil water for personal use until further notice. Water customers should bring water to a rolling boil for a full minute, allow the water to cool before using it and store the cooled water in a clean container with a cover. Use boiled and cooled water or bottled water for drinking, brushing teeth, washing fruits and vegetables, preparing food and baby formula, making ice, and cleaning surfaces that come into contact with food. Pressure will likely remain low, so please conserve use when you can.

Mail Tribune article: Pacific Power restoring more than 3,000 Southern Oregon customers tonight and into Monday

Pacific Power’s website will provide up-to-date estimates of local restorations times at www.pacificpower.net/outage-updates. Additional outage maps are available here:  www.pacificpower.net/outages-safety/outage-resource-center.

Please find additional information regarding mail services, transportation, access to support and more below.

And a giant thank youIt has been a week that none of us expected or ever contemplated. So many of our cherished neighbors and friends have experienced heartbreaking loss. Still, over and over again, those who are able have stepped up with tremendous energy, passion, and intention, already thinking about how we rebuild. I am deeply grateful to be part of such a community.

State Representative
Oregon House District 5 – Southern Jackson County

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