As Lincoln City returns to what was "normal" before the Echo Mountain Fire, we want to reflect on how our community came together to face the challenges we never expected.
Lincoln City was hit with the unexpected last month. The Echo Mountain Fire blazed through thousands of acres, resulting in damage to hundreds of properties, sparking fear among those whom it was approaching, causing evacuations and power outages through most of the town. While all of this was terrifying, it took no time for locals to unite. As things have settled down immensely, we have had time to reflect on our amazing community coming together like never before to show support for those affected by this disaster.
At the first sign of trouble, Chinook Winds Casino Resort opened its doors to evacuees. As the fire approached Lincoln City, all on-site shelters were moved south toward Newport. North Samaritan Hospital had to evacuate all located within the hospital, as was the case with many other evacuee sites. While most people evacuated, those who remained in place, away from imminent danger, started making a plan. Lincoln City, and the surrounding areas, rallied together to open donation sites and distribution centers. Restaurants provided free meals and hotels opened rooms for those displaced, free of charge.
As a multitude of volunteers, businesses, churches, and nonprofits sprang into action, it became clear there needed to be a centralized donation center. With the help of New Life Foursquare Church, Younglife, Coast Vineyard Food Pantries, and more, Lincoln City Outlets opened a storefront for a donation distribution center. Shortly after there were people on site offering counseling and assistance providing steps toward rebuilding what was lost. With the number of donations coming in, donations were, and still are, encouraged to be sent to the donation center in Newport to be sorted (Lincoln County Fairgrounds, 633 NE 3rd St, in Newport). Grill 1646 even revved up their old school bus and began taking donations down there to save residents the drive.
ZuhG Life Surf Shop owner Bryan Nichols had similar thoughts. Although his family evacuated, upon return he got to work. He got in touch with the surf community and began taking donations of surf gear to provide those who had lost theirs. That quickly turned into a full-blown donation site, and more. On a welcomed misty afternoon, Tilted Halo, a friend in the surf community and restaurant owner out of Portland arrived outside the shop and spent the day providing free food and water. Zefir Coffee was also involved by giving out free coffee and dedicating tips to wildfire victims. Warm authentic soup, sandwiches, water, and bars were offered to those who arrived in addition to the donations outside of the shop. Clothing, dog food, kitchen supplies, surf gear, and more overflowed the sidewalk on the Nelscott Strip.
Facebook groups, community discussion boards, GoFundMes, and viral 'adopt a family' sites were everywhere. People from all over Oregon and the United States generously donated to relief efforts. While fires were burning all across the state of Oregon, our beach town received more than we knew what to do with it, which goes to show how special this place is to everyone, across the globe.
Lastly, but certainly firstly, thank you to all first responders who ran toward what others were running from. Without their relentless efforts to contain this coastal wildfire, direct traffic, or knock on doors to evacuate, this disaster could have been much worse. We appreciate you the most. Lincoln City received help from fire departments out of state, in-state, and volunteers right next door. We came together as a community, as a state, and as people. A needed and refreshing reminder of humanity, humility, and unity in our coastal town. Thank you, to everyone.