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New resource center at the heart of Blue River seeks to provide direct relief

Cascade Relief Team's resource center opened a hub last week in Blue River.

Posted: Jul 30, 2021 6:06 PM
Updated: Jul 30, 2021 6:46 PM

BLUE RIVER, Ore. -- Cascade Relief Team's new resource center is seeking to help Holiday Farm Fire survivors rebuild and continue to get relief.

"It's a 45-minute drive to town at minimum," said president Mark Brooks. "There's also tree felling projects so that can be 45 minutes to an hour and a half."

RELATED: A LOOK AT THE HOLIDAY FARM FIRE PERIMETER

The coalition was first created in February as a volunteer cleanup effort. But as work continued, Brooks knew more needed to be done.

"Since the fires last year, the more that gets removed the less awareness that's there," Brooks said.

Brooks said he hopes to provide essential needs like laundry services, showering facilities and WiFi for community members.

"Many fire survivors are in the same place that they were last year," said Brooks. "Three weeks after the fire, they had their hotel they were in longer term, but really, they're in that same spot."

Brooks said his main goal is to help get every Blue River resident back home.

One of Brooks' favorite stories is helping Don Dow.

"He was like, 'I don't want to live in a hotel. I want to be back on my property.' So he pushed his stuff back to the side and brought up his trailer," Brooks said. "It was really neat to go from cleaning their property to having a home brought back."

Dow lost his house, garage and motorcycle in the fires last year. Plus, he didn't even have insurance.

"First of all, we were socked in with smoke most of the summer and then when the fire started, that's when the nightmare really began," said Dow.

He said without the help of Cascade Relief, he would have struggled to get another house.

"Ten days after the fire, I went down and ordered my house and it was ready to come by Feb. 11 but I had to fight the permitting process," Dow said. "So when I came in, it was like Christmas morning."

MORE: HOLIDAY FARM FIRE SURVIVORS FRUSTRATED OVER SLOW PERMITTING PROCESS

Dow said he joined Cascade Relief in hopes to pay it forward.

"I had a pile of ash sitting on my garage slab and they helped me clear that up," Dow said. "Then I went to work for them."

Dow was one of the last people to evacuate Blue River during the fires, and one of the first to come back. He said he's excited to see the community slowly getting back together.

"Next year will probably be the big push," Dow said. "As you can see by looking around, it's already coming back."

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