On Monday, Cheryl and Steven Yant plan to drive their 2018 Jayco Jay Flight trailer from their Salem home to the Douglas County Fairgrounds. They’ll leave it there so that a couple whose Paradise, California home was destroyed by the Camp Fire will have a place to live this winter.
Cheryl Yant said she heard on Oregon Public Radio that Douglas County was opening up RV spaces to Paradise refugees and looking for people willing to loan out their trailers. She called the county and learned that a Paradise couple who have been staying with friends here since their home was destroyed was in need. It was a match.
The Douglas County Board of Commissioners voted this week to open 40 RV camping spaces at the fairgrounds to people from Paradise who lost their homes in the Camp Fire. The fire, which began Nov. 8, destroyed 13,672 homes.
Yant said they used to live in California and had cousins who used to live in Paradise, so they knew the area. They had been feeling very sad about the catastrophic fire there.
They had been about to winterize their trailer, but Yant had another idea.
“I was thinking gosh wouldn’t it be great if we could find somebody who could use our trailer for a few months while they got back on their feet?” she said.
So she did some research and was thinking of contacting a volunteer in Chico when she heard the radio story about Douglas County. It was easier to bring their trailer here.
It’s not a big trailer, she said, at about 19.5 feet, but it’s new and it’s got everything two people would need for a limited time.
The Yants are retired, and bought the trailer June. They have taken it out five or six times on trips mainly to the Oregon Coast and Eastern Oregon.
Yant is humble about her contribution. She sees it as an opportunity rather than heroism.
“I know that if I was in the same situation I would love it if somebody gave me some temporary housing,” she said.
She’s been thinking lately how easy life is when you have a home — how simple it is to do things like get up at night, use the bathroom and return to a cozy bed.
“The routines of daily life are so easy and we take them for granted,” she said, “but then when you don’t have them the world changes greatly.”
She said the people whose homes were destroyed in the Camp Fire truly are refugees.
“I think about all of the refugees all over the world that we hear about, the dire situations, and we are all made of the same cloth. We just have different circumstances in our lives,” she said.