Wash. wildfire donations overload ‘a second disaster’

Wash. wildfire donations overload ‘a second disaster’

30 July 2014

published by www.tri-cityherald.com

USA — Enough is enough.

Organizations that have been flooded with donations to help fire victims in Okanogan County are again asking people to stop sending stuff.

“I think donations might very well be a second disaster,” said Jennifer Dolge, director of donor services and communications for the Community Foundation of North Central Washington. “There’s just so much stuff and now they have to figure out what to do with it all.”

Tens of thousands of diapers. Semi-truck loads of dog food. Pallets upon pallets of water.

Material donations to help victims of the Carlton Complex fires now fill three warehouses, two gymnasiums, community distribution centers and several semi trucks that have not even been unloaded.

The giving has been overwhelming and heartwarming, officials say. But it is coming in far greater quantity than it is needed.

On Tuesday, Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said an army of volunteers and emergency workers worked from sunrise to late into the afternoon, moving donated items from the National Guard Armory in Okanogan to a larger warehouse at the Fairgrounds.

From there, it will go to the old Pateros grocery store, which will serve as a long-term solution for providing supplies to fire victims, thanks to the generosity of a donor, Rogers said.

“I’ve got a full detachment of the National Guard, as well as volunteers, Public Works employees; they started at 7 a.m. and they’re still going,” he said. “It’s the same story everywhere — we don’t need more goods. Not in Twisp, or Winthrop, Brewster, Pateros, or the Tribes.”

The donations are getting to fire victims, Rogers said. People have been coming in to the donation centers to pick up clothing, bedding, nonperishable food, toiletries and other necessities.

Volunteers, the National Guard and other organizations have also been taking items by the truckload out into communities and neighborhoods affected by fires to make sure people have what they need to get by.

Tuesday was the last day that items were being accepted at Pateros High School. The entire gymnasium is stuffed full, along with hallways and several classrooms. Truckloads of donations that haven’t even been unloaded sit outside the school.

“The support has been very overwhelming, very generous,” said Sam Kille, spokesman for Team Rubicon, which has taken over coordinating disaster relief for the town of Pateros. “A lot of it is items that aren’t necessarily needed right now but might be needed down the road as people start rebuilding their lives. It’s going to be a long process for the folks (who lost their homes).”

People can still donate money to a number of organizations that are collecting for the fire relief and for fire victims.

“We’re finding that shelters aren’t being used and people (who lost their homes) are finding places to live,” Dolge said. “The immediate needs are being met. Now we’re starting to focus on the long-term needs of people are they start to put their lives back together.”

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