‘A huge difference’: Volunteers mobilise in Oregon fire aftermath
By Shane Burley
Portland, United States – Hunter Bombadier has spent the better part of the past year protesting for an end to police violence and anti-Black racism – and supporting communities hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
That is how the 33-year-old member of Symbiosis, a network of left-wing organisations across the United States, was ready to help when massive wildfires broke out south of Portland, Oregon, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee their homes.
“We were able to use the programming and infrastructure we already had,” Bombadier told Al Jazeera in a recent phone interview.
The group had a system in place to provide needed supplies to communities affected by COVID-19, Bombadier explained, and had created relationships with other activist organisations to coordinate their efforts.
The groups use multiple supply drop-off sites throughout the state, often in public parks or parking lots, and coordinate their efforts through a central hub staffed by volunteers. Those volunteers work every day, often late into the night, receiving and distributing donated supplies in coordination with people in areas affected by the wildfires.