The Archie Creek fire wreaked havoc on the lives of those living in or near Glide. Folks living in this remote part of the County are proudly independent, and the last thing they wanted was help from the federal government.
The Archie Creek fire broke out on Labor Day, 2020, burning 132,000 acres and destroying 109 homes. It also destroyed barns, vehicles and much more. Many of those impacted had lived in the region for decades. Many were seniors on fixed incomes; many lacked adequate insurance.
These folks typically worked together to help each other out. But now their entire community was hurting. The State of Oregon realized that if money was going to come from the outside to heal the community, it would have to be administered by a local, trusted agency. So they turned to UCAN to manage wildfire recovery funds.
As a community action agency, UCAN fills service gaps as needed. Though we had not previously been involved in wildfire recovery efforts, we were experienced in providing housing repairs, and we used that experience to quickly start up efforts to address this gap. Our decades of experience working with community partners allowed us to soon connect with Glide Revitalization, ready to fund their efforts to offer a range of services to their community.
Abigail Richardson, age 78, was one of the individuals we were able to come together to help. She and her late husband Frank had lost everything in the fire. Living on a fixed income, they had been able to obtain a small trailer for their remote property, 42 miles from Roseburg. But Frank was ill and needed special in-home medical care. Other family members were living on the property. The trailer simply didn’t meet their needs.
We were able to approve their application for a new manufactured home, complete with new appliances. Sadly, Frank passed away at this time. We moved forward with arrangements to have the home delivered, as well as to have a new septic system put into place. Getting the home to Abigail’s property was no small feat, as the only bridge across Glide could not be used. Fortunately, the manufactured home firm obtained a permit in one day and was able to take the home from Albany, OR up to US 97, and then down highway 138.
From there, the home was driven down a long, narrow dirt road to where Abigail asked that it be sited. At the same time, a septic tank installer spent a couple of days drilling holes for a new septic system, as initial holes hit water. UCAN board member and County Commissioner, Tom Kress, took the lead in ensuring that timely inspections could take place for the septic system, as serving the needs of the victims of the fire is a top priority of the County. Both the new house and its septic system are now in place. Abigail told our staff that she was sure Frank would have loved the new home. For her, life has come full circle.