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Omak residents donating to fire victims

BtBAGEtCUAABDkMOMAK – The Red Cross has set up three shelters in Omak, Chelan and Winthrop.  But those aren’t the only places fire victims can go to get help. Community members have turned the Omak Community Center into a donation center.

Jennifer Shaul and her four kids evacuated their home in Chillowist Wednesday night. It was only a few days later, that they realized they lost everything.

“It really didn’t sink in right away.”

Because the family has dogs, they can’t stay at a hotel. So they’ve been camping in tents the last few days, trying to figure out what to do next. A volunteer told them about the donations for fire victims at the Omak Community Center.

“This is fantastic. It’ll give you a stepping stone to start again. Because you don’t have to buy clothes immediately. You don’t have to buy blankets immediately.”

The donations have been coming in from around the state. Johnna Jewell brought two carloads full of supplies from the town of Republic, 70 miles away.

“People are so devastated when this happens. You think about the families and the animals. We just wanted to bring some things and see if we could help out.”

She knows wildfires can happen anywhere, at any time.

“We live in a forested area also. With the forests being as devastated as they are with all the diseases, overgrowth. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. We’re hoping if it happens to us, people will jump in and do things for us as well.”

Governor Inslee spent part of the morning with tribal leaders outside Omak, who have volunteered to house National Guard troops.  He says he’s inspired by the response from the community.

“Everybody’s had a loss. We’ve got to wrap our arms around them, let them know they’re not alone.”

Shaul says she’s grateful for all the support.

“I moved over here about three years ago from Western Washington. The small community really pulls together for each other, it’s nice to see.”

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