From the Yakama Tribe:
The Yakama Nation is seeking help and support to aid the survivors of a wildfire that destroyed 20 homes, burned parts of several more and displaced more than 100 people from the small town of White Swan, Wash., in the heart of the reservation in central Washington state.
In an open letter dated Wednesday, Feb. 16, Yakama Tribal Council Chairman Harry Smiskin wrote of the need for outside assistance from the United States and other governments to help in the care for the displaced and the immediate cleanup in White Swan.
The Yakama Nation has been in a state of emergency since the fire began in the afternoon on Saturday, Feb. 12. The Yakama Nation estimates the cost of rebuilding is at least $4 million, and with other emerging environmental concerns, that sum will only increase.
Few of those whose houses burned could afford homeowner’s insurance, and few have savings to fall back upon, making recovery of families and housing in this tribe of 10,000 even more challenging, said Chairman Smiskin. In his letter, Chairman Smiskin states a request for the following kinds of help:
- Skilled volunteers who can assist in cleanup, including certified asbestos remediation experts, heavy equipment operators and home builders;
- Donations of money, clothes, food and other household goods, including diapers and supplies for babies and children;
- Temporary housing for displaced people, and assistance with rebuilding the destroyed houses, a responsibility that the Yakama Nation has undertaken for the victims of the fire.