Dear Donald: Oregon Is Burning. Why Won't You Help Us?

Dear Donald: Oregon Is Burning. Why Won’t You Help Us?

The smoke was so thick last night, Donald, that my husband and I decided to shut off the irrigation water to avoid taking on further smoke. Jerry needed a reprieve from all the smoke he breathed in during the day. He’s painting the new cover over the pipe and well site. We belong to a fourteen home community well and he’s our system operator. Our well began going dry, pumping black sand instead of water, at the end of March and our new well wasn’t drilled until the end of June. So it’s been a long and arduous process, and now that the end is in sight, he has to endure thick smoke out there while he’s working. Our neighbor helped with building the cover Jerry’s out there painting right now but he has three stints in his heart and has bone cancer, so he can’t be out in the smoke at all. So Jerry’s out there alone.

It’s not uncommon for Oregon to have forest fires. Over here in Central Oregon where we live, we experience ground striking lightning so smoke from summer fires is not unusual but to have it for so long and this thick is atypical even for an area where the joke is we have two seasons: Winter and August…three if you count fire season. But we’ve been experiencing not only smoke from our own fires but also those from Canada and now it seems that the entire west coast is in flames.

And then today I read that Governor Brown contacted federal authorities a couple of weeks ago for additional federal assistance and she was told, no. Donald, I wish I could say that I’m shocked, but I suppose I’m not. Frankly, I don’t understand much of what you do anyway, but you’d think that given the emergency at hand that you’d have enough compassion to help us.

I know that hurricanes are devastating, but so is fire. I doubt Governor Brown was asking for anything near what Congress just authorized for the damage done by Harvey, so what’s the deal? When we need you the most, you say no?

Donald, my husband and I have five acres with 4.6 of that flood irrigated and we have to be out during the week moving irrigation water around. I have gardens, lawns, and shrubs to water and it’s too smoky to be out there. But we have to be out there anyway. Central Oregon is considered the high desert so we don’t have much rain. The area is volcanic and it’s all we can do to keep things watered during the triple digit heat we’ve been having. Plus, we’re harvesting now. The corn is ready and the beans require daily picking. And my apples are going continuously in the food dehydrator.

But here’s what I don’t have to deal with: my home lost to a wildfire. We are far enough away that we should be fine and we have enough of a defensible space around our home that even if a new fire broke out in our immediate area, we would probably be okay. We can shelter in place if need be. But Sisters residents may not be as lucky and they’re only twenty miles from us.

Whatever help you can provide Oregon is sorely needed at this time. Please help us. Please.

We’ll talk again soon.


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