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FireWatch: Jackson County Expo evacuation organizers reflect on last year's events

A year removed from the fires, organizers of the Jackson County Expo evacuation center look back at the community that stood tall in the midst of it all.

Posted: Sep 8, 2021 12:49 PM
Updated: Sep 9, 2021 9:43 AM

Medford, Ore. — Teamwork makes the dream work. It rings especially true when disaster strikes — because at that point, it can either tear you apart or, in this case, bring you closer together.

When the fires first broke out last year, many had to leave their homes in a moment's notice. Steve Lambert served as incident commander of the evacuation center at the Jackson County Expo last year.

“What was going through my head at that time was how are we going to make this work in such a short amount of time," Lambert said. "Who are the people that are going to help us make this work?”

One of those people was J Domis, who served as a leader helping Steve.

"We clearly had a very common mission and it was to take care of these people who had lost everything, in many cases," Lambert recalls.

They put that mission into action and got to work. They were able to call on community members to provide even the most basic things to their neighbors in need. And the most unique part? Bonds that were formed in one of the toughest times the local community has ever experienced.

“It was really all of these relationships that we had formed during this Covid process the past 6 months prior to the fire that really led to a rapid and fairly successful response output," Lambert said.

Families helped other families. People helped other people. A true sense of community formed in one of our darkest times.

But more than that, it gave everyone confidence that if they're ever needed again, they are better prepared and know who to call because they did it, and can do it again.

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