Team Rubicon (TR), a veteran-led global disaster response organization, is launching a wildfire recovery operation to support Lincoln County residents who continue to endure impacts of the September 2020 Echo Mountain fire. This operation will run now through Wednesday, Aug. 31. To date, about 135 families have returned to their Otis properties, but more than 160 families continue to live elsewhere, some in hotels, shelters, or temporary rentals, others with friends and family.
TR Echo Mountain Incident Commander Matt Akers says Greyshirts, the highly skilled volunteers are deploying from all over the West Coast. Responders include a team of sawyers (chainsaw operators) to remove dead, down, and down-hazard trees from over 20 properties.
“We understand the road back home has been a long one for so many families displaced by this wildfire. The Greyshirts deploying this week are well trained, prepared, and mission-focused on serving the community of Otis.”
The Cascade Relief Team has been a critical part of the Otis recovery since the 2020 fire. The group was founded and is led by Executive Director Marc Brooks. “There’s one critical thing we don’t have – that's sawyers who can come in and safely remove these trees so we can get on with the recovery,” said Brooks. “We’ve worked with Team Rubicon on a number of operations and this is one of their specialties. They come in and get it done.”
Team Rubicon’s assistance was requested by the Lincoln County Long-Term Recovery Group, a non-profit collective of community-based and faith organizations devoted to recovering from disaster and building community resilience in Lincoln County. Allyson West is executive director of the group. She says local volunteers consistently show up in strong numbers to advance the recovery in Otis. “What we need right now is skilled help, a reprieve for our local volunteers,” said West. “Team Rubicon’s work will help us kickstart the next stage of our ongoing recovery.”
Communities around the world are rapidly becoming aware of the valuable contributions of TR. Greyshirts are being deployed to support people in their own communities and beyond. But the need for TR goes beyond the capacity of our current volunteer base.
Incident Commander Akers says there are roles for almost anyone who wants to help.
“Our Greyshirts are an inclusive bunch. We’re veterans and civilians, working or retired. We're emergency responders, construction workers, accountants, CEOs. Our backgrounds and interests are pretty diverse.”