The horrible human disaster of the Carlton Complex fires weighs heavy on the people of the Methow Valley and Okanogan County, and that pressure may not lift fully for years. It is a disaster almost incomprehensible in scope — more than 300 houses destroyed, hundreds of outbuildings gone, untold lives torn apart.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has seen fit to declare it a major disaster and offer aid, for public agencies. There will be no FEMA grants as yet for individuals, who surely have suffered great losses. While we can lament that decision and hope for reversal, we have the gut feeling that in the long run it won’t really matter. There has to be a better way to rebuild a community than wait for federal grants. These efforts are best, most effective and most satisfying when they are local, when neighbor helps neighbor and friends help friends. As a matter of fact, the long-term recovery effort already has begun.