UPDATE

It has been 12 days since major flooding knocked homes off their foundations, sent raging water through living rooms and forever impacted families and individuals in Umatilla and Walla Walla counties. From the very moment the water started rising, the Red Cross has been there to provide hope, comfort, and support by opening emergency shelters, assisting with meals, doing damage assessment of homes and helping those impacted with recovery assistance. This delivery of the mission of the Red Cross is being carried out by more than 50 volunteers, both local and many who traveled across the state, who are committed to helping those who need it.

As the focus of this disaster shifts to recovery and rebuilding, the Red Cross continues to be there to support the community. Following extremely successful Multi-Agency Resource Centers at the Pendleton Convention Center and the Walla Walla County Fairgrounds this past week, the Red Cross has set up Service Centers for those in Umatilla and Walla Walla counties to further help them find resources following the flooding. This support will be available daily and anyone who needs assistance or has questions can simply call the hotline at (541) 215-2908 or walk in and ask for help. All updates are being posted to the Red Cross Cascades Region Facebook and Twitter pages.

From the very first night, rising water forced people out of their homes, and for more than a week in the aftermath, the Red Cross operated emergency shelters supporting a total of 170 overnight stays. With nowhere to go, Red Cross volunteers provided those impacted with a warm place to stay, three meals a day thanks to our partner the Salvation Army, immediate emergency supplies, emotional support and more. Working tirelessly through this past weekend, and with the help from local and regional partners, Red Cross volunteers were able to successfully identify more comfortable, longer-term housing plans for all individuals in Red Cross emergency shelters. This is a wonderful sign that parts of the community are starting to recover. While the emergency shelters may be closed, it’s important to note the Red Cross will remain in the community, providing assistance through Service Centers and helping residents with recovery plans.

The generosity of the eastern Oregon community has been on display from the moment word spread about the flooding. Almost immediately, neighbors began helping neighbors by bringing donated items to the Pendleton Convention Center. We are happy to share our partner, Adventist Community Services and Disaster Response will be leading the effort to collect, organize and distribute all donated goods moving forward. The Pendleton Grain Growers (PGG Building) at 1000 SW Dorian Ave. in Pendleton will serve as the new home for donated goods and individuals needing items may visit the location daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Anyone interested in providing donated goods is encouraged to contact Adventist Community Services and Disaster Response to inquire about specific needs.

The road to recovery will be different for everyone, as the needs of each affected community and family are different. The Red Cross is continuing to work closely with local partners to create plans and coordinate recovery services to ensure people get the assistance they need to get back on their feet.  We would like to thank all our partners, in the local community and region, who are helping to support those whose lives have been impacted by this disaster.

Michelle Hamrick

Community Engagements & Partnerships, American Red Cross

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