Message from ​Director Fariborz Pakseresht and Deputy Director Liesl Wendt
September 18, 2020

The Oregon wildfires have truly tested us all, whether it's in our personal lives or at work. We are proud of your commitment to supporting one another and the people of Oregon. Thank you.

Throughout Oregon, the wildfires have greatly impacted the people we support. And we're stepping up to the challenge. Just a few examples:

  • We activated our Agency Operations Center to help us monitor the wildfires and redeployed staff to the state Emergency Coordination Center to aid with sheltering evacuees and meeting food and water needs.
  • We and our partners evacuated and relocated older Oregonians and people with disabilities from residential programs and are contacting in-home consumers for safety checks and making sure they have the essential supplies and services they need.
  • We're checking in on children in foster care, tracking evacuations and mobilizing to meet foster provider needs. 
  • Our staff are at evacuation centers, replacing SNAP benefits for wildfire victims and connecting them with other ODHS services. We are not requiring in-person interviews for SNAP benefits in most cases to get benefits to people quickly.
  • Staff have donated funds to provide needed supplies for people on the Warm Springs Reservation.


We've also been creating and using existing resources to spread the word about ways that ODHS can help Oregonians who have been impacted by wildfires:

  • We are posting office closure notices and sharing updates on our Facebook and Twitter accounts.
  • We developed an ODHS benefits flyer and social media cards to help Oregonians identify benefits they may be eligible for.
  • We are promoting You Are Not Alone, a resource originally developed to help Oregonians during COVID-19 with issues like mental health, domestic violence and suicide prevention.


Public website

Our new ODHS wildfire resources site includes information such as:

We encourage you to check the website regularly.

OWL site

OWL now has a section dedicated wildfire information and resources for employees. You can find it off the main ODHS OWL page. The site includes information about leave, links to the state wildfire resources page and more. There's also a section for an office tool kit and a regular leadership update, called the Wildfire Digest. The Wildfire Digest is provided to managers via email and posted on OWL for all staff.


This has been a tough year for our staff and the people we support. Your commitment to your work and the people of Oregon shines through it all. Thank you.