OSU community providing services, resources to those impacted by wildfires

Weatherford Hall seen through a buffer of smoke and haze on Sept. 17. Winds blew the smoke from the wildfires in Santiam Canyon east of Salem, Ore. into the Willamette Valley.

Haley Daarstad, News Contributor

Thousands of Oregonians have been impacted by the wildfires and OSU community members are working to help people that have been affected by these fires with resources and services.

John Valva, executive director and vice president of alumni engagement at the Oregon State University Alumni Association, said via email that the alumni center has created a website that provides OSU alumni, friends and community members lists of wildfire resources

“The resource hub is intended to be a reassurance to the OSU community that the land-grant mission of Oregon State University offers research, advice, and direct service at this particular moment of an elevated crisis,” Valva said via email.

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According to Valva, the OSUAA is organizing ways for alumni and friends to provide emergency financial assistance to students affected by the fires, including ways to support OSU’s direct service to communities in need. 

Students can apply for funds through the Office of Financial Aid for emergency financial support. OSUAA supports the OSU Foundation who is raising funds for these students facing hardships due to the fires and COVID-19. 

For students who have been impacted by the wildfires, OSU’s Human Resource Services Center is available to help those who are facing insecurities for a variety of reasons like wildfires. 

Miguel Arellano, the Basic Needs Navigator for HRSC, works to assist students who are struggling with financial challenges to meet their basic needs, such as a variety of food programs and emergency housing. 

As we know, many Oregonians, including many OSU students have been displaced by the recent fires,” Arellano said via email. “The Office of Student Care, within the Office of The Dean of Students, and the HSRC have been working together to coordinate care as these cases come in.”

Arellano helps students navigate the resources available like grocery support, helping to recover and purchase school supplies, purchasing essential belongings like bedding and towels and health coverage and mental health referrals. 

“This is a stressful and scary time for everyone, the world is literally burning around us,” Arellano said via email. “For many, college can be a difficult transition as it is, so I urge everyone to please utilize all the great resources OSU has to offer.” 

If students need help and access to resources, contact HSRC by email at [email protected]and if students have been impacted by the wildfire and don’t know where to go call the Office of Student care at 541-737-8748 and they will redirect to a variety of services to address the obstacles the student may be facing.

OSU’s Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine is providing help to families whose animals have been hurt due to the wildfires. They are providing ambulatory animal welfare checks and treatment at the evacuation sites: Benton County Fairgrounds, Linn County Expo Center and Oregon State Fair and Exposition Center. 

A team of about two doctors and around three to four veterinary students from the College of Veterinary Medicine visit these sites about one to two times a day on a scheduled basis.

During these visits, the doctors, Dr. Kate Schoenhals and Dr. Avery Loyd, address urgent medical needs and perform a wellness scan for the housed animals. They have seen a variety of different animals that have been evacuated including pigs, horses, sheeps and an emu, and have reached over 700 animals.

Tandi Ngwenyama, assistant clinical professor and does emergency and critical care for the Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine at OSU, has been providing consultations for possibly critically ill patients requiring intensive care and can be reached by phone at 541-737-9836.

“Welfare checks and treatment in the field are being conducted on a daily schedule,” Ngwenyama said via email. “Currently we are visiting the Benton County Fairgrounds at 6 p.m. and the Linn County Expo Center at 11 a.m. Visits to the Oregon State Exposition Center are being conducted on an [impromptu] basis. Inpatient services can be accessed by contacting our Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Teaching Hospital at 541-737-4812.” 

The Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine at OSU is collecting donations that can be used for their wildfire response, which will help their current efforts and future efforts to help provide treatment and care for animals who have been hurt by Oregon wildfires. 

According to an email sent out by Edward Feser, OSU provost and executive vice president, accommodations will also be made for OSU students who have been impacted and are employed as firefighters.

Some faculty may delay due dates for assignments at a minimum of two weeks for those students, and these students can delay their enrollment until winter term and receive full refunds if already paid with no penalty through Oct. 19. 

People who are also looking to donate or volunteer to help those who have been evacuated go to the Benton County Fairgrounds website or call 541-224-1339.