Spokane Tribe working to get fire-displaced homeowners back on their feet

Spokane Tribe working to get fire-displaced homeowners back on their feet

Fire victims from the Cayuse Mountain Fire have been left with virtually nothing, and many of them won’t have the help of homeowners or renters insurance to get them back on their feet.

The fire destroyed 14 homes. Now the Spokane Tribe of Indians is left to figure out what can be done to help the victims.

Most people think it will never happen to me.

“In a sense they gamble and say, ‘Oh we don’t need insurance, it’s never going to happen to me,'” Clyde Abrahamson, development manager for the Spokane Indian Housing Authority, said. “But in this case, it happened quick and happened to a lot of people here.”

Three of the homes were insured. Eleven other homes that burned down on the reservation were not.

“We’ve been looking to try to help these family members to look to the future and help them to rebuild,” Abrahamson said.

The Spokane Indian Housing Authority is working with various government agencies like FEMA, Indian Health Service, and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to get financial assistance for these families.

“We’re here to help out for the long range needs of these tribal members and we’re starting to look out how we can rebuild these individuals starting right from clean up to the finished painting on the walls, so they can get ready to move in,” Abrahamson explained.

Tuesday, the Housing Authority gave $1,500 to each family to help with their immediate needs, like clothes or a motel, and donations are flowing in from the Red Cross and people around the Inland Northwest.

“They just want their lives back,” said Terry Payne, Tenant Services Specialist with the Spokane Indian Housing Authority. “They want their houses back, they want to have their own clothes, and so they’re just trying to rebuild and trying to get stuff back together.”

The Spokane Indian Housing Authority says it encourages any homeowners or renters that are uninsured to get insured through Amerind Risk, (http://www.amerind-corp.org/), a tribally owned insurance provider made up of 400 tribes, and to create defensible space around their homes.

“I think that the fire itself, it happened, but as far as us as a people, and a tribe, I think we need to look into insurances for our people and really stress again how important it is,” Payne said.

The Housing Authority says the silver lining in this situation is the way the community and other tribes have come together to help these fire victims.

The Spokane Tribe of Indians says most of the victims are no longer in need of physical donations like clothes and furniture. However, monetary donations to help rebuild are welcomed and appreciated.

Those donations can be directed to the Spokane Indian Housing Authority.