The outpouring of help being provided by the people in the north county is amazing. Even when the national aid agencies got involved in confusing the issue, the people in the Tonasket and Oroville area soldiered on. We had a shelter set up in Oroville after the Nine Mile Fire and again when things started getting hot in the Tonasket area, leading to the evacuation of the whole town last week, as well as many of the areas in the surrounding highlands to the east and the Pine Creek area to the southwest.
Churches, businesses and just ordinary people have been lending a hand to their neighbors. This is what an emergency management plan should look like. And the outpouring doesn’t stop at the county’s borders, many people from across the state and across the nation have called up asking how they too can help. While sometimes big politics can make you start to doubt your fellow man, it’s times like these that make you remember your humanity.
Katie has done a good job this week covering the human side of the fire and we’ve had contributions from many other sources – including our former reporter/photographer Brent Baker and our courts reporter Zach Van Brunt. Tonasket Mayor Patrick Plumb has done an excellent job of keeping his constituents and many others aware of the constantly changing situation that is the Okanogan Complex. He gleans, or as he puts it “steals” every bit of information he can and passes it along via the Tonasket, Washington Stuff You Should Know News Network on Facebook.
If there is one thing that can be said about today’s emergencies, as long as there is a cell tower or wifi connection, we can all stay up to date through social media. The county’s emergency alert system seems to be a great tool for keeping people aware of the constantly changing situation – it seemed like there was a new text for an evacuation order every five minutes for awhile there.
Most of us in Okanogan County have family and friends that these fires have touched – whether it was an evac notice, the loss of homes, property or something like the loss of grazing land that might affect future business. Keep up the good work North County, your contributions to helping your neighbor ranks right up there with those amazing men and women on the front lines fighting the fire.