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home : blogs_old : press pass November 20, 2014

Press Pass
By Tim Wiederaenders
Daily Courier Editor Tim Wiederaenders shares his insights.
Saturday, July 27, 2013

Yarnell Hill Recovery Group: the enduring boots-on-the-ground effort

By Tim Wiederaenders

Bethany Hansom/Courtesy photo
Larry McCracken looks over his fire-destroyed home in Yarnell. The Yarnell Hill Fire, which started June 28, destroyed 129 homes.

On the front page Friday we published a story about the Yarnell Hill Fire, specifically how 30 percent of the 129 structures destroyed in Yarnell and Peeples Valley were not covered by homeowners insurance.

And now for more to the story.

Frances Lechner, communications director of the Yarnell Hill Recovery Group, provided a little more context on Saturday:

"The 30 percent uninsured figure was an initial estimate of total structures damaged by fire, not simply homeowners. This estimate, from the Yavapai County Department of Emergency Services, was provided in the early days following the disaster, before the individual assistance data was collected by the state. A more precise figure was unrealistic until more of the data could be collected and analyzed; we expect to provide a more detailed picture when more of the owners we've not yet been able to reach are located."

Also, the article "generously provided coverage of the Red Cross efforts in Yarnell which were significant and very much appreciated." However, Lechner notes, there are others that also warrant attention.

Scott Shephard, vice chair of the Yarnell Hill Recovery Group, also is the executive director of the Yarnell Community Center, where much of the recovery assistance was housed.

Shephard says "the Prescott Lions Club has been very generous; the Salvation Army of the Prescott Corps came through splendidly in many ways and in funding the expanded schedule required for citizens' meals an extra week. In addition, the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief Team for Arizona volunteered its time, especially that extra week working all three meals each day."

Scott said, "An exceptional partner in our recovery over the long term is the United Way of Yavapai County. They have pulled together and have been good stewards of many resources and services; their volunteers are committed and the shared vision of our recovery is clear and harmonious. This team is operating above and beyond. Our warm and sincere thanks to them and to all the giving hearts who have been here to offer assistance."

The Yarnell Hill Recovery Group thanks the readers who commented on Friday's article, and "would like to echo the suggestion of several of the readers regarding donations to help build the community."

The Yarnell Hill Recovery Group is an all-volunteer committee of local residents and leaders who began organizing before the evacuation order was lifted. Money donated to the group is tax deductible, and will be disbursed by the recovery group who know and understand the needs of the Yarnell community, Lechner wrote.

Knowing that the American Red Cross has raised $450,000 and has spent $100,000 to-date, with any leftover going to other tragedies in Arizona, I can see how the Yarnell Hill Recovery Group appears to be one of the enduring boots-on-the-ground efforts in the community. Its directors live in the Yarnell area, and their entire focus is local.

Visit www.yarnellhillrecoverygroup.org for more information.

"We are grateful for all of the assistance and contributions from all over the country - and our foreign donors, too. We are inspired and strengthened by the insight and generosity of those who help," Lechner said.

Related Links:
• Yarnell Hill Recovery Group
• County: 30 percent of displaced Yarnell residents lack homeowners' insurance

Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, August 07, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Gray

Samaritan's Purse has been there Monday-Saturday with 25-35 volunteers each day cleaning up uninsured and under insured properties. If requested by property owners they will sift through the ashes to try to find valuables for the owners. Special thanks to Karen from Globe with SP/Billy Graham for an exhausting 3 weeks that she has been there to serve. It was an honor to help 3 times.

Posted: Sunday, July 28, 2013
Article comment by: Anthony Horn

Samaritans Purse has been there mon-sat since the fire and has helped clean up and sift through ashes for many families. I personally was with Samaritan's Purse on 2 separate days and the organization is just amazing. Wish I could be up there helping more.

Posted: Sunday, July 28, 2013
Article comment by: uncommon sense

Hasn't Samaritan's Purse also been a contributor to the cleanup efforts?

Posted: Sunday, July 28, 2013
Article comment by: Elizabeth May

Dear Tim Wiederaenders,

Thanks for an honest accounting. This is really good information. I hope it is appearing somewhere in the print edition too. I'm wondering if The Prescott Strong money has already been dispersed? Do you have influence? The Red Cross certainly needs resources in order to respond so quickly to disasters. It seems like the money that was raised for Yarnell will not go to Yarnell.

I wouldn't have a problem with a 50/50 split. I do have a problem with Yarnell ending up with only 1 out of every 4 and a half dollars raised specifically for the Yarnell effort. Just imagine what the Yarnell Hill Recovery Group could do with 350 thousand dollars.

God bless the Red Cross but they do not cut checks. If anybody ever needed money it is the people in Yarnell. What little money I can give will be local and I am using my little bit of influence toward that end, but I just pray that Yarnell will also benefit from the large fund raising efforts.

Sincere Thanks,
Elizabeth May

Posted: Saturday, July 27, 2013
Article comment by: Todd Zuercher

We had the honor of helping clean up Larry McCracken's property (shown in the article photo) last Saturday. Larry and his wife are wonderful folks.

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