I know how busy you are and I hope you are staying safe during these difficult times. I sat in on the Governor’s press conference today and have summarized points that were made by the speakers. You can find the press conference on most of the local news stations’ websites.
Governor Brown held a news conference today. The state will begin distributing 250,000 N95 masks for agricultural workers and impacted tribes. She expects additional fire fighters to be arriving from across the Country. FEMA representatives are on the ground in Oregon. She has asked President Trump to declare Oregon a Major Disaster Area. The immediate need is great. The governor mentioned that there are three large charitable foundations that she has asked to create a fund to help plan for what is to come next: Ford Family Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust and the Oregon Community Foundation. Called the 2020 Rebuilding Fund, it will help Oregon invest in long term recovery. Other organizations are welcome to donate to these funds. Additionally, the Oregon Food Bank, Red Cross or your local relief agencies are places to donate funds to assist those in need.
On the news conference today, Chief Doug Grafe with the Oregon Forestry Department discussed the favorable weather conditions that have helped firefighters through this week with some challenges due to winds. The east wind weather pattern changed and great progress has been made in fighting the fires. The next five days with cooler temps and higher humidity are favorable. High winds and potentials for lightning storms could be challenging. We may seen rain on Thursday. He said about the Chehalem Mountain Fire that he was pleased with the progress of holding lines and that there was still work to be done. There are now over 5,600 fire fighters in Oregon and we can anticipate more resources coming in. Firefighting will be augmented with aerial firefighting when the air clears. Doug asked that people keep drones on the ground because the air tankers and helicopters must be grounded if there are other airborne vehicles in the area.
Chief Mariana Ruiz-Temple, Oregon Fire Marshall, spoke about the Oregon Fire Service working across the state on the fires. The priority for structural fire service and unified command is continued with mop up and work around structures. They are keeping eyes on the weather. They are looking at recovery, where assets are placed and need. They are seeking replacement crews to give current firefighters relief. They will continue to support the Office of Emergency Management.
General Michael Stencel, with the National Guard has 700 soldiers and airmen mobilized and expect over 1,000 soldiers to be deployed by mid-week. There are 143 service members managing 26 traffic points in several counties and are seeking 150 additional guardsmen for other areas. They have deployed Blackhawk and Lakota copters with buckets for firefighting, medivac and mission control. They will fly once the air is clear. They have several teams that are helping with firefighting and other support functions such as search and recovery teams. He thanked the families and the employers of the Guardsmen for their support and for standing behind them.
Director Andrew Foltz from the Office of Emergency Management said that Oregon asked for help and it is coming from across the Country. He said it was important to provide accurate information and shared the following: local law enforcement is working safely and quickly on verifying and identifying the deceased and notifying their families, and reuniting missing persons with their families is also critical; there are many organizations involved such as State Police and Office of Emergency Management. There have been 10 deaths as of today, and 22 missing individuals. If you are concerned about a missing person/family, contact and report they are missing to the local law enforcement in the area they live or were visiting, when the fires occurred. If you have been displaced/evacuated (or know of someone) contact and register with the Red Cross Safe and Well Network (English https://www.redcross.org/get-help/disaster-relief-and-recovery-services/contact-and-locate-loved-ones.html and Spanish https://safeandwell-es.communityos.org/zf/safe/add) . This will help law enforcement identify those who are not accounted for. All emergencies are public information and the public should look to their local organizations for accurate information.
OBI and the Oregon State Chamber are working together to raise funds to support Oregonians displaced by the wildfire tragedy. They will work with local chambers in the impacted areas to determine where funds can be used to have the greatest community impact. OBI will cover all of the overhead costs so that every dollar donated will go to communities in need. Click here to make your donation: https://obiref.revv.co/wildfire.
Know someone that needs a place to stay: Dial 211 for help with locating shelters for homeless and displaced. The Oregon Conference Center is open for homeless people to get indoors to escape the smoke.
You can view the map of the fires here: https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/6329d5e4e13748b9b9f7f33f06a3c376/. And view the Governor’s press conference here: https://www.kgw.com/article/news/local/wildfire/oregon-governor-kate-brown-gives-update-on-oregon-wildfires/283-0e00780b-1432-44d4-8075-72129efae32b. Today’s fire press briefing has not been posted on the Oregon.gov site. You can check the site to see earlier briefings: https://www.oregon.gov/gov/media/Pages/speeches.aspx.