KGW spoke to Marta in October shortly after her home in Santiam Canyon burned down. Now she and her family are transferred to a place they can call home.
MARION COUNTY, Ore. – A single mother of five whose home burned down in the fire that swept through Santiam Canyon is now back in a place she can call home.
In October 2020, we spoke with a woman named Marta. She is a single mother of five and has escaped domestic violence. She started a new life in Santiam Canyon.
“What we’ve built is why it’s been so important to us,” Marta said in October.
But now, seven months after the fire, she’s in a much better place.
“It’s definitely been seven crazy months since our last conversation,” Marta said. We spoke with her on Zoom as she sat in the new house she is renting.
“We’re looking around our house and it’s absolutely perfect,” she says.
It’s definitely a change for the better. For six months, his family has been living in a hotel room. “I never thought living in a hotel would be so difficult,” Marta said.
She said cooking for her children was difficult and six of them were locked together in a room.
“We still had to go to school. We still had to find activities to do and it was winter so it was really fair to stay in a lot. So that was quite difficult, ”she says.
Marta and her children spent Christmas, New Years and birthdays in their hotel rooms.
Throughout this time, she scoured rental listings.
“The rental market is very dark,” Marta said. “It was very difficult to continue to be rejected and refused for my applications.”
But through it all, she got help from the Service Integration Team (SIT) at Santiam Hospital, Santiam Canyon Wildfire Relief Fund, Marion County Housing Authority, and Project ARCHES. She said her case manager with SIT would constantly pass on her housing opportunities. One day, Marta checked Craigslist, saw the house that was listed, and immediately applied.
“I was blown away when I finally got accepted. It was the greatest relief you can imagine, honestly, ”Marta said.
An added blessing was that her family was chosen as the recipient of a Knights of Columbus fundraiser.
“We had a crab dinner in the car, so take out,” said Dennis Richey, member of the St. Patrick – Canby Knights of Columbus Council.
“Just Marta’s fund itself, we raised just over $ 20,000,” he said.
Richey said that every year the organization holds a crab food and a big auction at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds, but this year, due to the pandemic, it had to be innovative. Each year a charity or a family in need is chosen. This year, Richey got three names from the Santiam Canyon Wildfire Relief Fund. He interviewed them all and Marta’s story stood out.
In addition to the money raised at the event in Canby, furniture and other household items were also donated. Next, Knights of Columbus volunteers helped Marta’s family move into their new home on April 1.
“They had pizza for the kids and that was the first photo we took at our table,” Marta said. “It gave us such a good feeling when we saw them sitting at this table,” said Richey.
Marta said she was grateful for all the help her family received and didn’t feel like she had to shoulder the burden on her own.
“Everyone felt the weight of what we were going through [in the hotel]. So now that we’re here I can see everyone stretching out. I mean the older girls have their bedroom and the two younger ones they share a bedroom. Anyone can personalize it and personalize it. I can see them getting excited, ”Marta said.
She feels lucky to have found her new home when she did. Marta said she received a housing voucher from Marion County and it was due to expire on April 3.
His advice to the many other fire survivors still displaced is not to be afraid to ask for help.
“Sometimes we are afraid to do this. It makes us feel vulnerable. It makes us feel like we are failures. But no, asking for help shows your strength because it takes a lot of strength to ask for help. “