Grants support 2020 wildfire recovery in Southern Oregon
By Eric Tegethoff, Oregon News Service
PHOENIX, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Southern Oregon continues to recover from the destructive wildfires of 2020, and grants are helping residents in the region.
The Almeda Fire in Jackson County devastated the towns of Talent and Phoenix. About 1,700 manufactured homes were destroyed, and more than half of those homes were in communities for people age 55 and older. Many of those folks are still displaced. AARP Oregon has donated $10,000 dollars to Firebrand Resiliency Collective to help with recovery.
Executive Director Tucker Teutsch said there are a number of barriers to recovery for older residents.
"We experienced this fire on top of COVID and its own supply-chain issues, but also the largest building-supply price bubble that I think any of us have ever seen," he said. "So that income disparity in that community really prevented people from being able to purchase new homes or build new homes."
Teutsch added that disability is another barrier. His organization has also focused on victims' access to technology and their social circles, both of which have been struggles for older Oregonians.
The Rogue Valley Council of Governments' senior and disability services has also provided a $5,000 grant to Firebrand Resiliency Collective.
Constance Wilkerson, senior and disability services director, said like Firebrand Resiliency Collective, her organization helps with the heightened need for disaster preparedness in the region. She added it's going to take a long time to rebuild but efforts are under way in Talent and Phoenix.
"It's really heartening to see businesses are being rebuilt and opening, gardens are being planted around the new homes that are springing up, and lots of homes are under construction," Wilkerson said.
She said the Community Action Agency of Jackson County's Center for Community Resilience is the point of contact for fire survivors in the region.