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Oregon volunteers return to Kentucky for second tornado relief trip

The Cascade Relief Team volunteer group formed following the historic 2020 wildfires in Oregon. The nonprofit is now using its experience to help others

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Cascade Relief Team is no stranger to helping out in times of need. The volunteers responded to the historic wildfires in Oregon last year. 

Now, thanks to donations and grants, the nonprofit responds to natural disasters beyond Oregon. When devastation strikes, the Cascade Relief Team offers a lifeline. 

"We do our best to take a survivor full circle, for the moment they lost their home to getting back into a new home, or place," said Marc Brooks, who started the non-profit to help local communities clean up and rebuild following the devastating 2020 wildfires in Oregon.

"I think it's one of those things where the mission leads to those who need the most help," he said.

Two weeks ago the mission led them to tornado-ravaged Kentucky, where tornadoes ripped through the state earlier this month. At least 70 people were killed, and some towns were completely flattened. Brooks said was like nothing he had ever seen before. 

"I've seen different damages out here from flooding to ice storm to fires, and this is entirely different," he said.

The Cascade Relief Team found opportunities to assist in Dawson Springs in the western part of Kentucky.

Credit: Cascade Relief Team
A few volunteers with Cascade Relief Team pose for a picture

"One of the interesting things that we brought is it's just pure knowledge from doing this before," Brooks said. "Many people didn't know that they had disaster relief assistance through the form of DSNAP, which is a food benefit for natural disaster survivors and then unemployment." 

The team returned to Oregon after a week in Kentucky, but that's not the end of the mission. Twenty to 25 volunteers from Oregon will head to Kentucky next week to provide more assistance for about two weeks.

They will also be setting up a Kentucky division of the nonprofit to continue their work on the ground.

"When we go back we're going to be looking to tie the resource centers together," Brooks said.

Dozens more volunteers from the group will be on hand this time around to accomplish that goal. 

"You know having a team of all survivors helps as well, because their hearts are with the hearts of the people who just lost," he added. 

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