The fires and immediate mudslides are over in the Methow Valley in north central Washington. Now a lot of tough work begins.
Cattle fences are still down, orchards are scorched, homes are burnt down and creeks need stabilizing. And the snow is coming.
Three regional groups have sprung up to try and recover the Methow Valley for the long term. They’re doling out the aid to families in organized weekly meetings. The Methow Valley got turned down for more federal aid. But some $800,000 in private money has come in through various organizations.
Still, 350 homes burned down, and nearly half of them are uninsured. Adrianne Moore said the money won’t cover the need. She is with a non-profit called Room One in Twisp that’s leading many of the recovery efforts.
“We know that winter is hard here for many folks anyway,” Moore said. “And issues that are already present, or were before the fire: family discord, or mental illness or low-level domestic violence, or whatever it is that people are facing, it’s going to be exacerbated.”
Moore said many Methow residents are living in travel trailers with shoddy heating, with family or friends or in totally substandard housing. She said 20 to 30 percent of the families will need housing, social and emotional support for a full year to 18 months. That’s about 100 families. There are 150 families in case management.
Some community work parties have focused on building fences for cattle and to keep deer from orchards. They’ve also helped winterize some people’s housing before the snow flies. Red Cross will dole out it’s last round of emergency vouchers on December 1.