by Frosti Adams
As the embers have cooled and the winds have died down, the magnitude of the Santiam Canyon fires continues to hit home. If you have driven through the canyon, it is miles and miles and miles of blackened devastation. The Santiam Rebuild Coalition continues the monumental task of making some sense out of the destruction that is left.
In mid-October some of the companies involved in rebuilding met at Stayton High School football field to hear from DEQ, one of the many agencies involved. Topics covered were mostly focused around debris and hazardous waste disposal, heavy metals, and asbestos, but other items came up as well. Who would have thought that septic tanks would melt below the ground leading to people falling in or waste seepage? These are just some of the property damage issues facing any homeowner or business planning to rebuild. Countless inspections and permits still need to be approved; aid agencies need office space, and of course, temporary housing is needed. Construction Contractor Board employee Don Myron was only one of many people affected. He survived by sitting in the river, but he lost everything. Luckily for him, his brother is a contractor and can help him navigate the rebuild process, but others are not so lucky.
Over 50 companies were represented at the Stayton town hall meeting, and all have publicly offered assistance. Rich Duncan Construction is taking the project management lead on a new community center in Detroit, and provided scoping sheets for the project. This new community center will be the rallying point for efforts in the region. Nick Harville, SEDCOR, said “Detroit is kind of the nerve center for the Canyon. All the communities are unique, but Detroit was the largest with the marinas and other amenities most smaller communities didn’t have. And we have access to a building that wasn’t burned, with the space for what they really need.” Coalition members are also signing onto an approved contractor list and must show that they are licensed, bonded, and insured, to help residents avoid unscrupulous companies.
Harville also said, “As you know, several AGC members have stepped up already. I’d say be ready to pitch in when the time is right. Doing this right from the beginning is agonizingly slow. But in the long run it will make it easier and quicker when it’s a clean slate to work with. Then we can mobilize and really rebuild.”