Be a Community Hero by Providing Food, Water and Shelter to People in a Disaster

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In a disaster such as a flood, wildfire or a severe storm people often need to temporarily evacuate, or in worst case scenarios, lose their homes. They need a place to stay and food to be able to rebuild their lives.

The Oregon Department of Human Services’ Office of Resilience and Emergency Management is looking for licensed businesses throughout Oregon that can feed, house or provide water to people during a disaster.

Two community meetings are planned in January for people interested in learning more. Please see below.

For example, recently in Lincoln County people had to leave their homes due to flooding and needed hot meals. As the week progressed, the need increased with the flooding in Tillamook County. Families were displaced and needed meals. Without any contracted vendors in the area there were very limited options.

“Having licensed catering or restaurant services within local communities allows us flexibility and maneuverability to quickly respond to these types of requests. We’re looking for restaurants, professional caterers, hotels, motels or any licensed business able to feed, provide water or can shelter a few people to an entire community if the disaster were something like the Cascadia earthquake. During disasters people aren’t going out to restaurants or renting hotel rooms, so it can help businesses recover from lost revenues also because they will be paid for their services. Plus, this a way businesses can help their communities recover. The people needing help are likely your neighbors, your friends, people in your community. The business owners and managers will be known to their communities as someone who stepped up to help,” Michelle Richards, Office of Resilience and Emergency Management, (OREM) Mass Care Coordinator, said.

The feeding and lodging businesses, called vendors, would be compensated by the state for these services. The vendors would need to go through a process to determine what they are capable of. They could have a large capacity or small. Maybe they could only provide food boxes within a 50-mile radius, or maybe they could deliver throughout the state – all are welcome, Richards said.  

If people or businesses are interested in helping, they can contact Richards directly. She will walk people through the process.

“I will make it as easy as possible. I am here to help,” she said.

So far, it’s been a slow start and there are only a few vendors enrolled. Feeding and lodging help is especially needed along the Oregon Coastal, outside the I-5 Interstate Corridor and Eastern Oregon.

In 2020, OREM contracted with hotels and meal providers in eight counties to sheltered more than 4,400 wildfire survivors in more than 120 hotels and served more than 2.2 million meals.

OREM is a program of the Oregon Department of Human Services and is tasked with providing food, water and shelter in emergencies.

Interested? Contact Michelle Richards, Office of Resilience and Emergency Management, (OREM) Mass Care Coordinator for Oregon, Michelle.RICHARDS@odhs.oregon.gov; 503-510-2763.

To learn more:

  • An informational meeting for potential applicants is planned for Jan. 22, 2024 at 1 p.m.  through a Microsoft Teams Meeting. The agency will provide additional information on the need for On-Call Feeding and Bottled Water Delivery Service and will answer questions asked by potential applicants. Applicants who do not need to attend this optional meeting may still submit an application for this RFA. Potential Applicants may use the following Microsoft Teams link to attend the meeting:
    https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-teams/join-a-meeting?rtc=1
    Meeting ID: 226 698 005 086
    Passcode: KgoEe4
    Or call in (audio only): 971-277-2343
    Phone Conference ID: 574 923 839#

  • A second Pre-Application Information Meeting for potential applicants is planned for Jan. 26, 2024, at 1 p.m. through Microsoft Teams. The agency will provide additional information on the need for Non-Congregate Shelter and Lodge spaces and will answer questions from applicants. The Pre-Application Information Meeting is optional for potential applicants to attend. Applicants who do not attend the meeting may still submit an application for this RFA.  Potential Applicants may use the following Microsoft Teams link to attend the meeting:
    https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-teams/join-a-meeting?rtc=1
    Meeting ID: 278 467 296 008
    Passcode: PyY5ed
    Or call in (audio only): 971- 277-2343
    Phone Conference ID: 877 521 084#

About Author

Christine Decker is a Public Affairs Specialist for the Oregon Department of Human Services. Before working in communications she was a working journalist.

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