The Columbia County Fairgrounds in St. Helens is currently open to house displaced people and livestock fleeing from the rash of wildfires across Oregon and Washington.
As of Thursday afternoon, Sept, 10, Clackamas County has entered a Level 2 evacuation notice and is preparing to evacuate the Clackamas County Fairgrounds. An estimated third of the animals being sheltered there are expected to be sent to the Columbia County Fairgrounds.
“We are simply trying to be as prepared as we possibly can,” Columbia County Fair Board member Julie Pelletier said.
By Thursday afternoon, the Fairgrounds had sheltered sheep, cows, chickens, goats, hogs, around 30 horses, and several displaced families that are sleeping on the grounds in tents and trailers. The Fair Board is reaching out to the community for help with supplies for the evacuees.
“A lot of these people had to get out in a hurry," Columbia County Fair Board Member Laken Gortler said. "Maybe they didn’t have lead ropes and they just had to throw their horses in and go. Whatever you have that you think we could use, please bring it.”
The community is asked to pay attention to the Columbia County Fairgrounds Facebook page for additional needs as they arise. With the influx of additional animals, there are concerns about providing adequate space and volunteers to meet the workload.
“We need volunteers, prayers, and your support,” Pelletier said. “We need resources. If you have space for an animal or you can take in a family in need, please do. Sleeping bags are a need right now, tents – anything. If we get full, we’re one of the last places they can go.”
Volunteers with trailers are willing to pick up evacuees if necessary and they will also come to your house to pick up donations if you are unable to transport them to the fairgrounds yourself, according to a release from the fair board.
The Columbia County Fair Board is also asking for donations to help offset the cost of rising electricity and water bills.
“Our fair board is doing spectacular work along with the Grange and all of the local committees and commissions and folks that are helping out,” Columbia County Commissioner Henry Heimuller said. “The community support and donations of hay and feed from businesses like Dahlgren’s to Senator Betsy Johnson and a myriad of folks kicking in and coming together on this thing has been amazing. Our appreciation is 100 percent to the community.”
To volunteer or make a donation to the Columbia County Fairgrounds, call 503-397-4231.