Detroit mayor speaks with Redmond evacuees; older homes in logging-turned-resort town were 'grandfathered' in
REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- At the Super 8 Motel in Redmond on Sunday, smoke and worry filled the air, as anxious evacuees heard from the town of Detroit's mayor while they wait to learn if a wildfire destroyed their homes.
Charles Dunaway, who evacuated from McKenzie Bridge, said he heard that his home was spared by the Beachie Creek Fire, but he’s still waiting to see it for himself.
“Until we are able to get back up there, we are remaining hopeful, and our heart goes out to all the people that aren’t as fortunate," Dunaway said.
"And like I said, we don’t know for for sure if we were fortunate enough to not have our homes and livelihoods burned. So until then, we are just waiting for confirmation.”
Detroit Mayor Jim Trett traveled to Redmond to speak with the evacuees on Sunday. While he was able to offer some information, many remain in the dark about the status of their home.
The mayor told them he understands their frustration.
“The first time they call, they’re so anxious," he said. "Yesterday, I had a gentleman that I know fairly well who was just screaming at me for five minutes, stopped when he was through, then said, 'I’m sorry -- I know it’s not you,'" Trett recalled. "Then called me the next morning and apologized. I said, 'There’s nothing to apologize for.”
The mayor did offer the crowd hope at the end of his talk, explaining that the town is already looking at how they will rebuild.
However one rebuilding issue could be challenging for homeowners in the area. Many of the lost homes were older and essentially grandfathered in on their construction.
The mayor said for older homes that were destroyed, they would have to be built up to modern codes. That means, for some, completely new plumbing systems, as septic systems are no longer allowed.
The mayor said that's concerning for some residents in the area.
"Detroit used to be a logging community, and that community paid family wage jobs," Trett said. "Now, we're a resort community, and some of those older folks are living on fairly limited income. And they do have concerns, because they know they’re under-insured, or they don’t have insurance."
The mayor said it could also mean a huge blow to the local business community, as some of those buildings would also have to be redesigned.
“We don’t have a big business community, but most of it with the exception of one store are gone, we believe," he said. "And so some of those may choose not to come back, because they have to make their whole profit in basically five months, and that’s getting hard to do.”
Trett said he has been discussing plans with the governor, as all involved look at the large rebuilding effort that lies ahead.