White Swan relief efforts three weeks after the disaster - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

White Swan relief efforts three weeks after the disaster

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WHITE SWAN, Wash- It's been three weeks since the devastating fire in White Swan.  Since then people across the Valley and the country have donated generously to the victims.

The tribal council chairman says so far $200,000 has been donated to the Yakama Nation.  The Red Cross estimates their contribution at $25,000, and of course there are the huge qualities of food, gift cards, clothing, and bedding.

Harry Smiskin, the tribal council chairman, says that they are extremely grateful for all of the donations that have come in, but it's going to take more money to rebuild. 

He puts the value of cleaning up and rebuilding each house at $200,000 for a total cost of $5-$6 million.  He says many of the homes have asbestos, which raises the clean-up costs. 

Smiskin says that they are seeking state and federal aid but they must first be declared a disaster area and cutting through the red tape has been tricky.  FEMA investigators inspected the damage Thursday and are expected to make a decision about giving aid by March 12th.

Smiskin added that they are looking beyond simply rebuilding what was there, they hope to build an even better White Swan that the residents can take pride in.