Rebuilding after the White Swan fire

WHITE SWAN, Wash.--Four homes are on the final stages of rebuilding in White Swan, the community destroyed by a fire this past February.

Twenty homes were destroyed in the blaze and progress has been slower than hoped, but Yakama Nation Tribal Council Chairman Harry Smiskin is happy with where things are finally headed.

"At first they were initially disheartened because they didn't think it was moving fast enough," Smiskin said. "We're really pleased about it and it's an effort that reached out nationwide."

Along with the newly built houses many others have had repairs made to them. "We've so far completed work on 20 of the homes out there in White Swan. I.e. things that needed new roofing, those kind of things," said Smiskin.

FEMA is bringing in 21 mobile homes on top of permanent housing. The mobile homes will arrive over the next couple of months. Smiskin says although they were denied emergency funding after the disaster they have been able to rely on the generosity of others to rebuild.

"In essence what has happened is Yakama Nation is rebuilding the White Swan community with donated money," Smiskin said.

Work on all the homes is being done by a volunteer workforce through AmeriCorps and tons of things for inside the new homes have been donated by the Kennewick Church of Latter Day Saints. They delivered the goods to the community Thursday and are happy to help where they can.

Smiskin says they will start rebuilding another home in August but are looking for around 200 volunteers to help another family rebuild their lives. "It's going to be an exciting time to have volunteers come out and build that home," said Smiskin.

The rebuilding process should be completed by September.

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