August 25, 2015
By Rick Jones, Presbyterian News Service
High winds and dry weather continue to fan the flames in the northwest as wildfires spread, damaging or destroying homes and businesses. Representatives of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance’s National Response Team have spent nearly a week meeting with the Presbytery of the Inland Northwest and the Synod of Alaska-Northwest to assess the damage and determine needs. The fires in Washington State and Idaho alone have burned thousands of acres over the past two weeks and the work to contain the fires continues.
The National Response Team consists of the Rev. Bill Neely, Jan Spence and Barbara Mason. The three report that despite the damage, volunteers and churches have mobilized to provide clothes, food and shelter for those displaced. The team has also visited some of the small, hard-hit communities of Kamiah and Kooskia, Idaho.
“Right now the people are still in shock and concerned about where the fire is burning and cannot fathom just what to begin to do for long term recovery,” said Spence. “We have helped to set up a Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC), but local church leaders believe they and the other volunteers will have to make house calls in the surrounding hills to help those too traumatized and self-sufficient to come to town.”
Early in the visit, the NRT along with volunteers assembled donation bags and drove throughout the area to find anyone in need.