The Carlton Complex Fire on July 21, 2014 as firefighters worked to contain its spread across Eastern Washington. Photo courtesy of the Washington State National Guard, by SFC Jason Kriess.

By the Rev. Stanley J. Norman

Firefighters are finally containing the massive Carlton Complex Fires in Eastern Washington (52% contained as of Thursday, July 24th). The other wildfires burning near Chelan, north of Wenatchee, and south of Cheney are also being contained. Thanks be to God . . . and thanks be to the firefighters!

As the firefighters begin to stand-down and rest up for the next fire, the communities affected by the fires begin to seek relief and recovery. Hardest hit was the community of Pateros. Our Conference Associate Lay Leader, David Reinholz, posted a great report on the situation in Pateros yesterday. If you haven’t read David’s report and looked at the pictures he took, I urge you to do so.

Also hard hit was the Methow Valley, where the destruction was more widespread, the towns of Twisp and Winthrop being spared from a direct encounter with the fires. Throughout the more than 250,000 acres burned by the fire the power is out. Restoring power is one of the highest priorities of emergency managers.

Bishop Grant Hagiya requested an initial emergency grant of $10,000 from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and it was immediately approved by Assistant General Secretary Greg Forrester. Those funds will be used to help provide temporary housing and services to those who lost their homes to the fires, and to assist in clean-up operations.

[quote_box_right]Donate to the Pacific Northwest Conference Disaster Response Fund, Conference Advance #352, memo “Washington Wildfires” and mail to the Conference Treasurer at P.O. Box 13650, Des Moines, WA 98198-1009.[/quote_box_right]We lost the parsonage in Pateros to the fire and we are planning to use the Conference Disaster Response Fund to provide for the needs of the pastoral family in Pateros. Speaking of the Conference Disaster Response Fund, you can help respond to this disaster by donating to that fund. Please indicate that your donation should go to PNW Disaster Response (Advance #352).

Please do not send “stuff” to the affected communities. Donations management is often called the “second disaster.” All that “stuff” has to be warehoused, managed, and distributed; and it may not be what the communities really need. The best way to help is to donate money to the organizations that are directly involved in disaster response and recovery, including UMCOR and your Pacific Northwest Conference Disaster Response Team.

Finally, “pray without ceasing.” In addition to praying for the thousands of sisters and brothers affected by the Washington wildfires, add the community of Riverside to your prayers. Riverside, a small community north of Spokane, was hammered by a fierce windstorm on Wednesday evening. Approximately half of the homes in town were destroyed or damaged by falling trees and strong winds.

The Rev. Stanley J. Norman is the Disaster Preparedness & Response Coordinator for the Pacific Northwest Conference of The United Methodist Church.

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