GRESHAM, Ore. (KOIN) — As the Eagle Creek Fire continues to devour everything in its path, hundreds of people left their homes for the safety of Red Cross Shelters at Mount Hood Community College and the Skamania County Fairgrounds.
Everyone at the shelter who spoke with KOIN 6 News seems to be in a holding pattern — waiting and wondering if their homes will still be standing whenever they get to go back.
More than 75 people sought shelter at the community college, while another 150 went to the shelter in Stevenson, Washington.
Cindy Price and her husband were among those who arrived at the the Mt. Hood Community College Shelter after leaving their home. Their evacuation notice quickly went from “get set” to “go” Tuesday morning.
“As we were packing up, we went back from a stage 2 to a stage 3,” Price said. “This is our house, this is our home, this is everything that we own.”
Price is worried that the fire could explode again and destroy homes, but she’s thankful for one thing:
“We’ve worked too hard for what we have and yeah it’s displaced us, but we’re both still alive,” Prince said.
The Red Cross has camp set up inside the events center on campus with the basics: food, water, shelter, bathrooms, a place to sleep.
“When people are in need, it’s amazing who will come out to help people and who will not,” said Tom Albertson with the Red Cross. “Here, people are coming out helping every day. We had the united Methodists make dinner, the Eagles are going to come in the near future, all of these people doing this out of the goodness of their heart.”
But some people spent time outdoors with their belongings. One group left their home at 4 a.m. Tuesday and another couple was making sure they didn’t leave behind the items most precious to them.
The Red Cross is reminding everyone the best way to help out is making cash donations so they can get the specific items necessary for each disaster effort.
Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Bryan White said as the evacuation boundary approaches Gresham, they will be looking into other possible shelter locations.
Patrick Oldright, who owns the Corbett Country Market, is on the cusp of the level 3 evacuations. While waiting for more information, Oldright has been helping others prepare.
“We are prepared as we can be. We are right next to the fire station,” Oldright said. “We’re just trying to take care of everybody who left here or getting out of here by getting them food, fuel, whatever they need.”
Joy Stamper, who is under a level 2 evacuation notice, has opened up her home to relatives from near Crown Point who were evacuated Monday night. Now they might all have to leave.
“A little nerve wracking, you know, trying to get everybody grouped together and where are we going to go?” Stamper said. “I’ve lived up here for years and it’s going to be devastating. All the trees will be gone, it’s going to be life changing.”
Evacuating with animals
Thousands of Multnomah and Hood River County residents prepare to leave their homes under threat of the Eagle Creek Fire. The Eagle Creek Fire isn’t the only wildfire threatening Oregonians, there thousands of acres of fires burning all over the state.
The Oregon Humane Society is reminding residents that if their home is unsafe for humans, it’s also unsafe for pets. They created a checklist for pet owners getting ready to evacuate:
— Collar/harness and leash for each dog and a carrier for each cat. In choosing a cat carrier, choose one that is large enough to serve as a temporary apartment for your cat.
— Three to seven days of canned or dry food
— Pet feeding dishes and water bowls
— Cat litter, small litter box (aluminum roasting pans are perfect), litter scoop, and plastic bags for waste disposal
— Photocopies and/or USB stick with medical records; vaccination records are a must
— Waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires
— Pet first-aid kit
— Favorite toy or bed, and favorite treats
— Most Importantly, collar, tag, microchip, and photographs of your pets
Another concern for pets is air quality with smoke and ash from the fire:
— Keep pets indoors. Ash is abrasive and can do permanent damage to your pet’s eyes. Also ash can cause respiratory problems for pets and prolong exposure can be fatal for animals
— Store extra food and drinking water
— Keep extra medicine on hand
— If pets go outside, brush or vacuum them before letting them indoors
— Make sure livestock have clean food and water
Multnomah County officials said there are at least 8 dogs at 15 cats staying at the Red Cross shelter in Gresham.