On August 11th, the town of Wallowa was hit by a severe hail storm. Hail damaged buildings and cars, leaving massive amounts of destruction in the town, and the Mayor declared a state of emergency. Read on to find out how the community has come together in the wake of this disaster, how you can help, and what important questions this raises for all of us in rural Oregon about emergency response.
In the aftermath of the storm, neighbors have come together to help one another. People across the county sprung to action, helping to clean up debris, board up broken windows, and donate materials and food. Community members have been using social media to share information about available resources, like the locations of diaper and food banks and information about a free car seat installation event.
Nearly every vehicle in the town of 800 was impacted, and many people are now unable to drive their cars. In a town with very little transportation, that poses a direct challenge for folks to get to work and access basic necessities. In response, organizers set up a GoFundMe page to provide aid for car and window repairs and other essentials. While the GoFundMe has been very successful so far and many damaged cars have been repaired, Wallowa is facing a long road to recovery. Many houses are still in need of repairs, and limited supplies and contractors means that some homes may head into winter without windows. Below is the article that was shared with the GoFundMe. You can read it, as well as more recent updates from the organizers, on the GoFundMe page here.
Moments like this one remind us that it takes all of us and that one of rural’s greatest strengths is that we have each other’s backs when it matters. But they also raise questions about rural emergency response. We know that every community matters and everyone has a right to a reasonable standard of living.
This storm impacted almost everyone in the community, and yet because the storm’s damage was assessed to be less than $7.5 million, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) support is not available. This hail storm has left people wondering how decisions about emergency response are made, and why rural communities are underresourced and deprioritized for aid. Why don’t the criteria for whether a town gets county, state, or federal disaster assistance account for the percentage of the community impacted? Why aren’t the community’s existing resources and capacity to recover considered? If the only consideration is the financial total of damage, rural communities will continue to be deprioritized.
Is your group or community discussing emergency response or disaster planning? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat about whatever you’ve been chewing on!
Sidra and the ROP Team
Hailstorm-Stricken Town of Wallowa Needs Help!
Created August 14, 2022
- The small town of Wallowa in NE Oregon was devastated by a severe hailstorm on 8/11/22
- Every building and car was impacted, and many cars were totaled
- Very little public transportation exists to get citizens to work/necessities
- Not everyone has insurance, and many losses are not covered
- Older, low-income community needs support – please help!
$100 will cover a deductible for a windshield
$150 will replace a glass-contaminated mattress
$250-400 will cover a front windshield replacement
$250-500 will cover one window replacement or auto deductible
On August 11, 2022, the community of Wallowa in NE Oregon was struck by a severe hailstorm. Hail the size of golf balls and larger smashed nearly all west-facing windows and destroyed windshields and car windows, totaling almost every car in the town of 800. In the wake of this disaster, friends and neighbors from across the county immediately showed up to help each other clean up debris, vacuum up broken glass, donate meals and plywood, cut fallen tree limbs, and board up broken windows. Unfortunately, repair will take a lot of money, and the citizens need financial support. Can you chip in to help this small rural community with a big heart?
Many people in Wallowa are older and retired, and the community is low-income. Many live in trailers with immense impacts from this storm that will make their homes a total loss. Some residents cannot afford vehicle, house, or trailer insurance. Those who can are still facing high deductibles and costs for repairs. The total loss of vehicles is particularly devastating as Wallowa is a rural community with extremely limited public transit and very few public services. Citizens are regularly required to drive 30+ minutes one way to access their jobs and essential services such as social services, medical care, car repair, and even banking and childcare.
It is unclear if or when government aid may be available, but it is clear that the citizens of Wallowa need immediate support. Your donations will support a micro-grant program administered by the Presbyterian Church in the town of Lostine, the nearest community to Wallowa. Citizens of Wallowa will be able to apply for immediate aid with essentials such as insurance deductibles, plywood to board up their windows, and windshield and other car window repairs. While this program will start with a cap of $500/application, we hope to expand to offer more aid if possible, as we know that this is only a drop in the bucket of what some families will need to rebuild. Your support will be invaluable in helping people retain access to their jobs and essential services and stay safe, dry, and warm as fall is right around the corner. Thank you for contributing to the fund, and please share this request widely!
If you need assistance and would like to apply for a micro-grant, please pick up an application at Wallowa City Hall or Wallowa Senior Center or message this page for contact information.