McKenzie School District gets a boost following wildfire loss
Monday, November 9, 2020
On Sept. 8, the Holiday Farm Fire ravaged the McKenzie River Valley, forcing the families and staff of McKenzie River Community School to evacuate. Days later, official news came that many had lost their homes or businesses to the blaze.
Fortunately, most of the school campus was saved, although some outbuildings and the football grandstands were burned to the ground and the buildings endured extensive smoke damage.
The school district’s agent notified PACE that the bleachers had burned down. PACE Administrator Dave Harvey and PACE Senior Property Claims Consultant Tim Bauer reached out to start the property claim process.
“Working with PACE following the Holiday Farm Wildfire that hit our community and campus, I learned that when Dave Harvey says you can call him any time, he means it,” said McKenzie Superintendent Lane Tompkins.
Due to the district’s remote location and lack of cell phone or internet reception, communication was limited. Access to the campus site was also off limits for the initial weeks following the fire. When fire crews opened the highway into the valley, Bauer made the initial site visit to walk the property with Tompkins.
During that visit, Bauer delivered initial funds to the district. Together, he and Tompkins made a plan that prioritized immediate needs, such as removing burnt trees near standing buildings and covering any partially burnt buildings from the elements. They outlined the scope of cleaning and rebuilding, so all parties were on the same page. Possibly most importantly, Bauer reassured the district of its PACE coverage and discussed replacement of major items like the district’s riding lawnmower, football uniforms and dozens of chairs that had been stored in an outbuilding.
“We wanted to get claims off their minds so they could move forward with recovery,” said Bauer. “My goal is to always take care of our members when they really need it. The environment and processes at SDAO allow me to get things done without all the red tape.”
Bauer set up systems to monitor monthly reports and log sheets from contractors, outlining rates and billing. He documents and files all the details so that the prices don’t get out of hand. One main objective is to stay ahead of the district’s cash needs by cutting checks in increments, as needed.
Not everything falls under PACE’s property coverage, however. In those instances, Bauer says he helps the district document what is outstanding and why it’s not covered and helps them organize the data to expedite FEMA’s response.
“PACE has been an excellent partner in helping us recover,” said Tompkins. “From Dave's initial support and guidance to Tim Bauer's expertise we feel that they have had our backs from the beginning and know they are still with us to support as we navigate our long-term recovery.”