by Debbie Evans, Independent Grant Writer, Kamiah

During the recent Clearwater and Motorway Complexes, three previous and one current Idaho Community Development Block Grant (ICDBG) projects were put to the test.  Kamiah’s Emergency Services Building was the central command post for all local fire departments/districts, coordinating with state and federal efforts.  Within the vehicle bays on-going strategy meetings and dispatch KamiahFire2015occurred for almost a three week period.  Twice daily debriefing and update meetings were held in the training rooms.  Meals were prepared 24/7 for two weeks in the warming kitchen to provide hot meals for local and neighboring department firefighter’s who came to assist and often times stayed on site when not deployed in the field.

One of the functions of the Kamiah facility was acting as a water fill station.  Response vehicles would pull in for water and during the time it took to fill the water tanks, driver’s and firefighter’s would go inside to eat quick hot meal before going back out in the field – it didn’t matter if it was day or night, hot food was waiting.  The City of Kamiah’s current water project was pushed to the maximum limits it was ever thought possible during this incident providing thousands of gallons of water to fill trucks without missing a beat; something the city had struggled with a few weeks prior when deciding to take the old system off line and start the new system even though it was during high fire danger.  In afterthought it was a good thing that they did because there was no way the old system would have been able to accommodate the needs of the firefighters and the community.

Across the river and up the hill from Kamiah, the Glenwood-Caribel Emergency Services Building, another ICDBG funded project, ClearwaterComplexFire2015acted as satellite command post and even had an evacuee.  One of the district residents who doesn’t own a car walked to the fire station and stayed, along with Glenwood-Caribel volunteer firefighters at the station for almost three weeks; sleeping on cots in the sleeping area and storage room.  Although the emergency generator didn’t provide power to run the entire station, even during the three days
that the electricity was out within the district, Glenwood-Caribel wives were able to continue to prepare two hot meals a day for the district firefighters staying at the facility plus any other firefighters who found their way to the station for water, fuel, a few minutes reprieve from being on the line, or to take a quick shower.  The Glenwood-Caribel Emergency Services Building provided a momentary refuge for local, regional, state and federal firefighters, medical and law enforcement personnel within the heat of the moment.  The underground water storage tank and well provided water for all needs during the incident.

The fourth ICDBG project utilized during the incident and is continuing to be used is the Kamiah American Legion Community Building.  The American Red Cross set up and conducted their three day Multi-Agency Recovery Center (MARC) victim assistance services at this facility and it is currently still being used by the Salvation Army as a distribution center for victim relief.

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