In response to the multiple emergencies happening on and near the Yurok Reservation, the Yurok Tribe is implementing a series of actions to assist the community in several different ways. All available tribal staff have been reassigned to participate in this effort.
In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tribe is confronting the following emergencies: two forest fires (near the reservation), poor air quality, Public Safety Power Shutoffs and a water shortage. While the air quality on the reservation is extremely poor, the fires are currently moving away from the reservation.
“We are mobilizing resources to address each of these issues,” said Serene Hayden, the Manager of Yurok Office of Emergency Services. “Our hearts go out to all of the people who have been displaced by the fires. We have all hands-on deck to assist the community during this challenging time and will be setting up emergency shelters at the Neil McKinnon Community Center and on the coast. We ask all evacuees to please practice physical distancing and wear a mask in public.”
The Yurok Office of Emergency Services is providing the following resources to the community:
· To help Tribal elders contend with the poor air quality, the Yurok Office of Emergency Services has distributed 168 High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters. Prioritizing elders with existing medical conditions, Yurok OES will be delivering a limited number of additional air filters in the Crescent City, Klamath and Eureka areas. It is recommended that families purchase air filters if it is feasible.
· The Neil McKinnon Community Center (Morek Won) is being set up to serve as an emergency shelter to house those who have had to evacuate because of the fires. The American Red Cross sent Yurok OES a truck filled with equipment to furnish the evacuation facility. An announcement will be made when Community Center is ready to accept displaced community members.
· The Tribe is also opening up Redwood and Riverside RV Parks on the coast to shelter those who have had to evacuate because of the fires. All evacuees are required to wear face coverings and practice physical distancing at all times to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
· Currently, elders living on the reservation are asked to shelter in place to minimize the potential for COVID-19 exposure.
· In response to the Public Safety Power Shutoff, the Yurok OES and PG&E established a COVID-safe, community resource center on the Weitchpec Tribal office property. The center is equipped with laptops connected to Wi-Fi, water and snacks as well as materials for children, such as coloring books. Portable cell phone battery packs are also being offered at the site.
· Yurok OES is also going to deliver water buffaloes to the homes of elders, who are without water due to the drought.
· Yurok Health and Human Services and other tribal departments are delivering food boxes to tribal elders.
· COVID-19 testing is happening in Klamath and Weitchpec four days a week. Yurok OES is providing home testing for those with preexisting medical conditions. To schedule a test, please call 1 888 225 8952.
Yurok OES will be providing regular updates on this page and expects to announce the availability of additional emergency resources soon.
Multiple forest fires are burning in proximity to the reservation, including the Red Salmon Complex and Slate Fire. The Slater Fire forced evacuations in Happy Camp and Gasquet areas. The thick smoke from these fires has shrouded the reservation is expected remain in the area until the weather changes. Yurok OES recommends that residents living close the evacuation zones prepare to leave their homes.
Here is a detailed description of how to prepare for evacuation in the event of a fire: https://www.readyforwildfire.org/prepare-for-wildfire/get-set/emergency-supply-kit/
For current air quality information, please visit: https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/NWCalifornia
Information will also be posted at https://www.yurokoes.org/
Please stay safe and check this page frequently for additional updates.