OTIS, Oregon — Corey Rivera spearheaded the cleanup effort at Pony Trail Lane in Otis after the Echo Mountain Complex fire ravaged the coastal town in September. "It was 6 weeks in the planning, a lot of phone calls, a lot of interaction and then those first 8 days there were so intense," said Rivera.
He and others who lost homes spent long days clearing debris, filled with the hope of rebuilding. Many had lived in manufactured houses and had little or no insurance. "We’re not getting any insurance money for this even those that were insured are only getting $5,000 and that basically covers your ashes for your asbestos and that’s it, nothing else," said Rivera.
Volunteers by the dozen came out to help with the cleanup, including Marc Brooks.
"There was a lot of buzz about he’s going to try this, he’s going to do this, some people thought he was crazy some people were all about it, so I wanted to see what was happening and kind of learn about how I could help." explained Brooks.
At the time, he had just started a non-profit to evacuate animals called Cascade Relief Team. The organization is now the onsite non-profit for the cleanup. "Different supplies are needed such as bags for bagging ash, shovels, rigs," said Brooks. "I help them find the resources, the donations and things they need also while helping out with the clean up as well."
When the cleanup effort first started, about 17 homes were on the list. So far, 33 properties have been cleared with 42 more on the list. But as months go by and the list grows, the team is in desperate need of volunteers and money to continue the work. They've been working tirelessly through the holidays but the number of volunteers has dropped over the many days of work. At one point there were dozens. Now there’s only a few.
While some get help from FEMA, others depend on the helping hands. "Four months and now we have a good plan to get Otis back in order," said Rivera. "We don’t feel like we received the attention that we probably could to make this work a lot more efficiently, so we’re hoping."
Hoping for more financial resources and hands-on help to recover from devastating wildfires.
Visit Cascaderelief.org to learn more about donations and volunteer opportunities.