The number of people sheltered at the Linn County Fair & Expo Center has dropped from a high of 700-plus to about 100, Commissioner Will Tucker said Monday afternoon during a daily information session.
Tucker told those who remain that, even as the evacuation facility winds down, “we will be here for you.”
He said Linn County is developing plans to assist each person who lost their home with mental health services, medical care and short-term transitional housing.
Tucker said donations continue to come in.
“The kindness of the people of our communities is outstanding,” Tucker said. “Now we are going to work with Furniture Share to develop a furniture bank for families who lost everything in the fires. We need good used furniture.”
A member of the audience asked about potential lightning forecast this week.
“Well, I’m not a weatherman, but what we’re seeing is that there is expected to be moisture with this,” Tucker said. “That can be bad, but not as bad as it being dry with lightning. We’re looking for cooler temperatures and some rain.”
Tucker said Red Cross officials reviewed the facility and said it was “amazing. Thanks to community members, we have been able to provide haircuts, and we even held church services here Sunday.”
Linn County Sheriff's Deputy Andrew Spencer said evacuation levels have been lowered in parts of both north and south Linn County, although a portion of the north county remains at a Level 3.
“There are no new fire threats, but we really don’t need a lot of people driving around there until we can get everything assessed,” Spencer said. “We spent the weekend assessing structures that burned, about 80 of them.”
Spencer said that soon, residents will be able to click on link through the Linn County Sheriff’s Office website, enter their address and see what type of damage has occurred to their home or business.
Spencer also addressed the issue of “community patrols,” individuals patrolling the area looking for looters.
“Some of them are wearing body armor and weapons. We know they are trying to do good, but it takes a lot of time to stop every one of them and question them. They need to let law enforcement protect their towns.”
Linn County’s Neva Anderson said the Salvation Army is continuing to prepare and serve three meals per day at the Expo Center, medical aides are on site and the Albany Fire Department is picking up prescriptions.
Anderson said mail is being held for Lyons and Mill City residents at the Salem Post Office.
The Linn County evacuation shelter opened last Tuesday. At its peak, it housed more than 700 people from all corners of the state and more than 700 farm animals. The Benton County Fairgrounds also housed livestock.
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