I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge those whose lives were significantly disrupted by the Eagle Creek Fire in the Colombia Gorge. Many were evacuated from their homes, others left because they couldn't breathe, some lived day to day keeping the suitcases packed by the front door just in case, and still others who lived far enough away from evacuation sites, but still the smoke did us no favors. Our Gorge is changed for the rest of our lives. I, and I assume countless others, grieve it every day since it started. But I remembered that this is a small fraction of the catastrophes this world is seeing. And then I read a blog post by a friend of mine who called on all of us to create more healing in the world. And I got a little more inspiration for action.
Much of the US west of the Rockies has had big fires and awful air quality for a long time. Oregon alone burned many hundreds of thousands of acres. We've just recently seen immense devastation from multiple major hurricanes and multiple earthquakes. There are wars around the world, declared and undeclared. Cost of living is going up, up, up in Portland and other cities and those who can't afford those homes are growing in number. And I am sitting on the couch with my computer wondering what to do about it all.
Then I remember that suffering is universal and disasters can happen to us all, whether human created or natural. It could happen to me and mine any second. And I remember to be grateful that at this moment, I have food, a home that has been keeping me safe, a community of caring people and a career that feeds me. I remember that my excitement in life is driven by being part of healing on any level whether one-on-one or as part of a bigger movement. I remember that a little bit of my money or efforts can actually go a very long way, especially if others join also. So, I compiled information from my friend's blog with my own research and the result is a list of resources below that will help us help others. It is so very far from complete but it will get us started. Even if all you do is donate $5 to one of these places, that's $5 that they didn't have before. If 1,000 people donate their $5... well, you get it.
Red Cross: Find a blood drive near you or just donate money. They are active in many areas that are experiencing hardship.
Oxfam is a development and relief agency working to end poverty. Oxfam International is a confederation of 12 organizations working together with over 3,000 partners in more than 100 countries to find lasting solutions to poverty, suffering and injustice.
Mercy Corps (MC)
Nonprofit organization providing emergency relief and supporting development programs in agriculture, economic development, health, housing and infrastructure, and strengthening local organizations
InterAction is a coalition of over 150 US-based non-profit organizations which are usually the first to respond to a crisis. InterAction coordinates and promotes relief aid programs. With more than 160 members operating in every developing country, they work to overcome poverty, exclusion and suffering by advancing social justice and basic dignity for all.
Doctors Without Borders
Doctors Without Borders delivers medical help to populations endangered by war, civil strife, epidemics or natural disasters. Each year over 2,000 volunteer doctors representing 45 nationalities work worldwide in front-line hospitals, refugee camps, disaster sites, towns and villages providing primary health care, performing surgery, vaccinating children, operating emergency nutrition and sanitation programs and training local medical staff.
International Rescue Committee (IRC)
Founded in 1933, the International Rescue Committee is the voluntary organization involved in resettlement assistance, global emergency relief, rehabilitation, and advocacy for refugees. The IRC delivers lifesaving aid in emergencies, rebuilds shattered communities, cares for war- traumatized children, rehabilitates health care, water and sanitation systems, reunites separated families, restores lost livelihoods, establishes schools, trains teachers, strengthens the capacity of local organizations and supports civil society and good-governance initiatives. For refugees afforded sanctuary in the United States, IRC offices across the country provide a range of assistance aimed at helping new arrivals get settled, adjust and acquire the skills to become self- sufficient. Committed to restoring dignity and self-reliance, the IRC is a global symbol of hope and renewal for those who have taken flight in search of freedom.
In addition to these resources, ReliefWeb (http://www.reliefweb.int/) provides a comprehensive
Directory of Humanitarian Organisations.
Here is a link to a list of animal savers in the US and abroad. Because animals need rescuing just as much as people do!
And locally, Friends of the Colombia Gorge, for updates on how we can help support the communities affected by the fire, support first responders and rescue teams and help our beloved nearby wild land rebuild itself.
Remember to take care of yourself if you have inhaled wildfire smoke, especially if you were in a red zone or worse for any amount of time and double especially if you already had immune or lung challenges:
Many of the herbalists I have read are recommending antioxidants, plenty of fluids, vitamin D3, and soothing things like milk or slippery elm tea or lozenges. Here is one article I found with a lot of information on herbal remedies for wildfire smoke inhalation. Check with your trusted naturopath or professional herbalist about specific ideas or recommendations.
Also, some of my herbal therapies and cupping or scraping techniques may be helpful for clearing lung congestion and inflammation. You can contact me for questions or to request an appointment.
And for our own peace of mind, here on the Cascadia Subduction zone, some earthquake preparedness is definitely in order. Here are some links to helpful information. The more prepared we can be ourselves, the more we help emergency responders so they can help those in more dire situations.
Portland Monthly has some good information on what will happen and what we might want to keep on hand.
OPB teaches us how to prepare water.
The Red Cross has a Survival kit packing list.
And finally the Oregon Office of Emergency Management has instructions on what to do if you're in an earthquake (and lots of other information too, not just for earthquakes).