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For Lane County's Head Of Emergencies, Holiday Farm Fire Hit Home

Brian Bull

Lane County’s Emergency Manager has dealt with as many disasters as she’s worked years on the job.

Patence Winningham was among the officials at last week’s event in Blue River, where updates on rebuilding and support efforts were shared with locals.  This included tours of new temporary housing units at the U.S. Basketball Academy, for 17 families who've lost their homes to wildfires. 

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Patence Winningham, at an August 5, 2021 event where FEMA temporary housing units were shown to state and county officials.

“I’ve been in my job for almost three years, been through three federal disasters since I've been here and it's been extremely challenging," said Winningham. 

"So I'm telling you it's testing me, it’s testing my ability, testing my resilience...but it's also showing me all the resources and tools that the local level has, that the state level brings and the federal government brings, to help support us in our worst day.”

The devastation hits home for Winningham, who’s also a resident of McKenzie Bridge. The Holiday Farm Fire burned through 173,000 acres last September, destroying hundreds of homes.

Copyright 2021, 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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