Written by Brad Hilliard, APR, President of PRSA Oregon
PRSA members and fellow communicators,
First and foremost, my heart and prayers go out to every one of you who have been forced to evacuate from the disastrous wildfires burning across Oregon and southwest Washington. My hope is that you and all of your loved ones are safe. I hope all of you are able to find the support you need in this difficult time.
Here in Salem, we have been fortunate. The nearest evacuation zone is about 10 minutes from my home. The skies are orange and filled with smoke and ash, but the fire line is holding. I feel stressed by the amount of work on my desk, worried for those displaced and those searching for their loved ones, and thankful to be in my home right now.
As a PR professional, I have managed wildfire recovery communications across several states for 10 years. I have been on the ground after the fires, helped guide reporters and elected officials through disaster zones, and have run several media events from evacuation centers, but I have never had to do it this close to home. Wildfire this close to where I live, work, and play gives me even more respect for the work of all those involved in the recovery process.
Here is what I have learned from my experience: Recovery takes time, but it happens.
It takes time, but the fires will be suppressed, the smoke will clear, and the ash will wash away. We will experience sadness over the realization that things will never be as they once were, but we will recover. We will work through this disaster, help each other pick up the pieces, and rebuild what was lost. It will not be the same. Some things will be better than before, some things will not. But, we will recover.
One of the gratifying parts of my job is connecting people to the resources they need to recover. No matter what level of evacuation you are in, there are resources available and tasks you can do to prepare for recovery. The resources below will help you do just that, regardless of where you live.
wildfire.oregon.gov – The State of Oregon’s wildfire recovery site. It hosts current fire and air quality updates, county updates, evacuation center and lodging resources, insurance resources, and disaster preparedness tips.
Wildfire recovery takes time, but it happens. Take time to care for yourselves and the people you care about. Check in with your friends. Lend a hand to help someone who needs it. Finally, if you need help, ask for it.
On behalf of the PRSA Oregon board, our hearts are with you.
Have a blessed day,
Brad Hilliard, APR