BEND, OR -- The death toll from the Camp Fire, in northern California, is now at 88. More than 200 people are still considered missing. Brett Matteis lives in Bend but is originally from Paradise, a town destroyed this month by the massive wildfire. His mother still lives there. At least, she did. Until this month. "She’s lost everything, so we’re trying to figure out how to get her back on her feet and to her daily, normal life. She’s one of the lucky ones because she has us, up here. That’s not the same for a lot of people down there."
He says the evacuation effort has been overwhelming. "One of the things that is kind of the reality check to me is: Paradise is about the size of Redmond. So, imagine Redmond moving to Bend in a week; everyone. And, that’s what’s been going on in the Chico/Paradise area." Despite the devastation, Matteis is convince his hometown will rebuild. "Paradise is a small town, tight-knit community. People are strong there, and they will be back. The older people – the elderly people, like my mom – they won’t have a chance to come back [because] it’s going to take some years. But, it will be back."
Local Firefighters Help with California Camp Fire (11/12/2018)
Matteis is grateful for the outpouring of support from Central Oregon, but says it’s important to make sure help is targeted. "Right now, I hear there’s an over-abundance of stuff. People are shipping blankets and sleeping bags and clothes, and there’s so much logistics with all that. I think they have plenty of that, and it’s really just financial assistance, right now – is what I’m hearing is the best thing we can all do." He recommends donating money to local organizations, like the North Valley Community Foundation, because they have lower overhead than national groups, and are working directly with families in the area.