After Nearly Two Years In Hotels, Survivors Of The Oregon Wildfires Found Housing

The Beachie Creek Fire in 2020 happened two years ago, but many of the survivors are still dealing with its aftereffects today. Some people are still staying in motels, while others have recently moved out.

One of those families that have lately found stability in the form of a new rental is Stephanie Lynch’s family.

Lynch, her husband, two children, three dogs, and two additional relatives had traveled a difficult route while staying at several hotels side by side. She claimed that her family has been in four or five different motels since the Beachie Creek Fire.

Her memory of the smoke and flames that consumed the Santiam Canyon two years ago is still very sharp.

Lynch recalled, “I remember that we saw the flames coming over Potato Hill, I believe.” It’s scorching and the ash is falling. You had trouble seeing more than 200 feet in front of you due to the dense smoke.

The family’s possessions were burned to the ground along with their rental house in Gates. That nightmare marked the start of a protracted journey during which birthdays and holidays were celebrated in hotels.

“There was simply a great deal of uncertainty at that time. You know, I was wondering where you were going to be in a month,” Lynch added.

Survivors Of The Oregon Wildfires Found Housing
Survivors Of The Oregon Wildfires Found Housing

Lynch and her family were able to purchase a few RVs for their loved ones by February 2021. Then, she claimed, they unintentionally learned they had to vacate the campground by March of this year.

She then returned to the hotel where she and her family had been staying, staying there until the end of May. Her family eventually received the keys to a brand-new rental at that time.

Lynch said that even a two-bedroom apartment was preferable to a single room with a floor area of less than 400 square feet.

Her four children now reside in Gates. The family members with whom they had shared hotel rooms have returned to the canyon in Detroit.

Lynch feels relieved. But she continues to battle with the fire’s emotional effects. She has resorted to creating art as a coping mechanism.

Lynch now creates paintings of nature on saw blades and tie-dye shirts. She expects to start selling them sometime soon.

“Now, I use art as therapy. I have to do it for a couple of hours every day, or else, you know, I’m a depressed wreck,” Lynch added.

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