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Revisiting 2020: The West Coast wildfires, the woman helping to rebuild her community

west coast wildfires
Posted at 1:35 PM, Dec 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-24 13:35:32-05

2020 ends with so many communities in the West looking for a place to begin to rebound after historic wildfires destroyed towns.

Virginia Camberos' home survived the fires that destroyed the towns of Talent and Phoenix in southern Oregon in September. She is an advocate with Unite Oregon and is working with many members of the Latino community who lost everything to the flames.

"I’ll tell you that our community is still in dire straits. The fact that they don’t have a home. The holidays are upon us and we have just helped as many folks as we can giving out $500 gift cards to help them alleviate the struggle of getting shoes for their children, food, all the hygienic supplies that they need," Virginia said.

In the weeks leading up to the 2020 Presidential Election, Virginia helped those who lost their homes register to vote. Oregon is a vote by mail state and there was the potential that ballots would be sent to addresses where people no longer lived.

She posted signs in English and Spanish around southern Oregon, making sure people knew how to receive their ballot even if they lost everything.

Now that the election has passed, the focus stays on not only the recovery from the fires but also the pandemic.

"I think that one of the things I wanted to convey to you all today is that COVID went out the window for many of the families," Virginia said. "They ended up having to go in and live with their relatives or friends and all that, and we’ve had a surge of cases that have risen here in southern Oregon because of that.”

We hope folks all across the country are doing their best to help many of these families by giving donations to our organization, which we in turn then give to families so they can pay their rent, buy food, clothes, whatever they need, and that’s some of the things that we continue to do.”

For more information on Unite Oregon's efforts head to their website here.