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Relief Agencies And Community Foundations Get Nearly $700K From Murdock Trust

Scott Dalton
American Red Cross

A dozen nonprofits in Oregon and Washington helping victims of this year’s wildfires are getting some financial support.

The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust has donated nearly $700,000 to a number of community foundations and relief organizations, as they continue responding to what’s considered the worst wildfire season in recorded history.

Credit Scott Dalton / American Red Cross
American Red Cross
Jeff Pyle receives a meal from American Red Cross volunteers Roger Brubaker and Eliza Roaring Springs, at a hotel used by the American Red Cross as a shelter for evacuees from the Oregon wildfires in Eugene, OR, on September 14, 2020.

Carisa Hettich is executive director of the Southwest Oregon Chapter of the Red Cross. She says they received $50,000 from the trust, which they’ve used to provide hotel rooms, meals, and money to 16-hundred families affected by wildfires.

“And then now with the same families that have qualified and have received Red Cross assistance, we are able to provide part of a long-term recovery support of $1,100,” Hettich told KLCC. 

This is the second round of emergency contributions made by the Murdock Trust this year. To date, it’s awarded over $15 million in emergency grants during the pandemic.

As for the regional Red Cross chapter, Hettich said this year's wildfires in Oregon were a historic challenge for her staff and volunteers. She said the designated disaster level for the wildfires was the same as for Hurricane Katrina. 

"The Red Cross has a projected budget of $24 million on our relief efforts for the Oregon wildfires, which is…that’s never happened," added Hettich.

Credit Scott Dalton / American Red Cross
American Red Cross
American Red Cross volunteer Eric Carmichael talks with Sabrina Kent whose home in Gates, Oregon was totally consumed by the 2020 wildfires.

"And especially being in a COVID environment. And the hotel costs since September 7th, we’ve had 139,800 hotel stays.”

Hettich adds more than 230,000 meals have been provided to displaced families and individuals since Labor Day.

Volunteers were putting in 10 to 14 hour days, and were coming in from all across the U.S., which is also unprecedented.

Copyright 2020, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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