If you live outside of Oregon and are concerned about the spread of the Oregon wildfires and/or my proximity to them (I’m looking at you, Bollmans and Carbonaras), this post is for you.
The Oregon Wildfire Resources site is a one-stop-shop. Among other offerings, it has road closures, a list of available emergency lodging, an air quality index, and a live map you can doom-refresh to your heart’s content. The map tells you how many active fires there are, how much acreage has been consumed, and other dispiriting facts.
PDX Alerts is the best source of current, regularly updated information about conditions throughout the Portland metro area. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter. The Twitter account is where I’ve been getting most of my information simply because it’s updated so consistently.
The evacuation system is three-tiered: 1.) Be Ready, 2.) Be Set, and 3.) Leave Now. At Level 1, you should be monitoring the conditions in your county and prepping to leave if need be. That means gathering valuables and forming an exit strategy. At Level 2, you are not required to leave but should be ready to go at a moment’s notice. At Level 3, you must go without hesitation. So far in the Portland metro area, Level 3 warnings have been issued for parts of Clackamas and Washington counties. More Level 3 warnings have been given elsewhere in Oregon, primarily in rural areas where it’s easier for fire to spread.
I live in Multnomah County where we are under a state of emergency but the likelihood that we will need to evacuate remains low. I’m further insulated from danger by the fact that I live in downtown Portland, where there’s less dry foliage and more non-flammable concrete. Plus, our dickhead mayor closed all city parks and other natural areas yesterday to further limit the spread, proving that he’s good for something some of the time.
This map from @PDXFire will give you a sense of the distance between Portland and the epicenter of the Clackamas County fire. (If you’re curious about other affected counties, you can find information about them and opt into county-specific emergency alerts here.)
If you’re looking for ways to help, Oregon Live has a great list of suggestions here. Most of them involve donating money either to the Red Cross or other relief organizations. I’d also recommend keeping a lookout for the inevitable GoFundMes that’ll start cropping up over the next few weeks as half a million displaced Oregonians begin rebuilding what they’ve lost. If you’re in the mood for some direct aid, consider buying a respirator or an air purifier for an Oregonian in your life. Right now, some folks whose homes aren’t threatened are being forced to relocate simply because they can’t breathe.
If you’re able to zoom out, consider that what’s happening now is likely setting the tone for every summer to come. This is what climate change looks like, and we all need to be prepared. Ask yourself how you can best use your skills to be ready and help others.
And pray for rain.