'I want to rebuild because I love the area. I love the people. The Santiam Canyon … is pretty special. It's almost magical in a way, the community support.'
Jamey Fawcett, parent and school board member, Santiam Canyon School District
Monday evening, we had put sprinklers on the roof in preparation for the fire embers that might come our way with the higher winds that were expected. As we went to bed, we got a text from our neighbor that said a power line had gone down and started a fire back behind their place. So I went out on our deck, kind of looked over that direction, could see the orange glow, came back in and told my wife, ‘I'm just going to drive over, talk to the neighbors and take a look and see what it is.’
I drove over, met with them, we're looking at this hill with the fire on it and it was actually going up the mountain, down the mountain in each direction. It was like swirling. As it grew, we all made the determination to go. I called my wife from the neighbor's house and said, ‘pack up what we have, what you can get to quick, get the animals in the car. I'm headed that direction. If you can leave before I get there, you get out.’
I came up to the house about five minutes later. She called me and said, ‘you’ve got to go, there's power lines down. I'm not sure if you don't get out now that you're going to be able to get out.’ So I left immediately.
Obviously, we didn't really sleep. We woke up and a friend of mine said, ‘You know what? Let’s just go.’ We took back roads and came through Gates. This is Tuesday now about 1 in the afternoon.
There were branches and debris down the main part, so I got out and walked up to the house.
As I was approaching the house looking for the outline of the house, through the smoke, there was a lot of hope. When I left, when we evacuated, I fully expected when we came back that the house would be there. But as I came up the driveway and I could not see the outline, I had to kind of start preparing for the fact that it was gone.
As I recognized that the house was not there, that our home that we had lived in for 12 years, the memories that we had were gone, it was an emotional moment for me.
All aspects of life right now are fairly stressful and pretty difficult to navigate in a way that is anywhere close to what normal looked like three weeks ago.
Balancing the role as school board member and parent in the realm of a natural disaster that just happened and then understanding that it was kind of a busy time in our district. We were in the process of building a new school. We passed a bond last spring and one of the buildings …we were going to get occupancy on the day of the fire.
I’m trying to make sure my daughter's distance learning needs are met. Because now with school being done in our fifth wheel, she needs the support of somebody there and my wife, because she has to teach, won't be able to do that. There's a fair amount of stress just because we don't know what's ultimately going to happen.
I want to rebuild because I love the area. I love the people. The Santiam Canyon… is pretty special. It's almost magical in a way, the community support.
There's an attitude up here that, you know, we're going to get through this, we're going to get through it together and we're going to come out stronger, you know, for what we've been through and where we're going to go moving forward.
OSBA is telling personal stories of hope and perseverance from the state’s three hardest-hit districts: Phoenix-Talent, McKenzie and Santiam Canyon. These “Rising from the Ashes” stories, told in images and words, will show where support is needed most to help Oregon students and their families rebuild. OSBA has established a Wildfire Resources page that includes links to donate to the hardest-hit communities: Phoenix-Talent; McKenzie; and Santiam Canyon.