Permanent disaster relief center opens in Pateros - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Permanent disaster relief center opens in Pateros

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"Immediate needs of food, water and clothing, along with generators loaned by citizens, have come in abundance. We are now moving into the stage of providing these items over the months to come, with seasonal items to be brought out as summer turns to fall and winter." In the future, as victims begin to rebuild their lives, other donations of building supplies, furniture, and financial assistance will be sought. Emotional counseling will be a need for many victims as well. "Having lived through a previous loss to fire, I know all too well the ache that victims will live with in the future; I just had to help," said Heather Carrington, community volunteer at the Pateros High School donation center.

PATEROS, Wash. - Community volunteers, in association with various charities, private donors, local businesses and government emergency response agencies have worked together to open a more permanent disaster relief center in Pateros, WA. The new center will act as a distribution site for the large volumes of donated items including food, clothing, household supplies, baby items and so forth. The donated items previously distributed at Pateros High School, the Brewster Recreation Center, the Okanogan Agriplex, and the Colville Tribal Center, will now all be distributed from the new central location in Pateros.

A private donor has made available the former Pateros grocery store building, which has been vacant for some time, to act as the new aid center. The new site should be fully functional within days.

Some have suggested that a Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC) also be invited to use part of the new space to provide other resources and support to fire victims.

Eric Driesen, Superintendent of Brewster Schools and community volunteer at the Brewster Recreation Center site says, "The fire victims have been greatly blessed by generous donations from throughout the country. Volunteers in our communities have donated thousands of hours to receive, sort, process, and prepare for distribution, tremendous volumes of needed aid." He notes that the supplies will be warehoused in a large facility donated by a local fruit company. That warehouse will supply the Pateros supermarket site for free distribution to fire victims over the next eighteen months or so.

Heather Carrington, community volunteer at the Pateros High School donation center says the new location will allow Pateros High School to be cleaned and prepared for school to start in about one month. "We needed a new distribution location so we could relieve the school. Our communities have worked well together to sort and inventory donations so they can be handled like a wholesale and retail distribution center. We are in this for the long run and have planned for these supplies to be distributed for as long as the fire victims need them."

Both Driesen and Carrington agree that the initial donations are only the first step in a long road to recovery. "Immediate needs of food, water and clothing, along with generators loaned by citizens, have come in abundance. We are now moving into the stage of providing these items over the months to come, with seasonal items to be brought out as summer turns to fall and winter," Carrington says. In the future, as victims begin to rebuild their lives, other donations of building supplies, furniture, and financial assistance will be sought. Emotional counseling will be a need for many victims as well. "Having lived through a previous loss to fire, I know all too well the ache that victims will live with in the future; I just had to help," she said.

"There are many sources of aid being made available to our victims, from volunteer help, donations, emotional support, health services, and government relief -- we are tremendously grateful for the outpouring of support from so many agencies," says Lois Davis head of the Pateros Chamber of Commerce and Superintendent of Pateros Schools.

"Hundreds of volunteers come to help everyday", said Welcome Sauer, Business Development Manager at Gebbers Farms, who, along with a team of other employees have been dedicated by the company to assist in disaster recovery. He noted that one ten-person crew traveled 2.5 hours each way and helped a homeowner clear trees and debris from his lot for 9 hours in the hot sun. "One large church sent from their distribution center in Salt Lake City 50 wheelbarrows, 25 chain saws, pallets of tools, supplies, food, tents, tarps and other emergency supplies, and they dedicated volunteers for every day into the foreseeable future, and they come."

Staffing for the new Pateros distribution facility has not yet been announced.

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