With the Yarnell Hill Fire raging out of control, the exiled residents of Yarnell and Peeples Valley watched with horror as events unfolded. The silver lining was the resourcefulness of residents and the generosity of the public.
Many of the community's leaders began looking ahead. They understood that an organization would be needed to assess the needs of community members and consolidate the generous outpouring of aid. In a community where the average resident is 64, perhaps uninsured, with an income of less than $16,000, the needs would be great and long-lasting.
The community couldn't afford to duplicate efforts. And residents needed timely, accurate communication about services. Exiled from their homes and divided by the closure of Highway 89, a group of 20 residents conferred about how this could be accomplished.
Out of that conversation, the all-volunteer Yarnell Hill Recovery Group was formed.
Under the direction of the volunteer steering committee, a dozen volunteer sub-committees had been formed to provide resources for everything from emergency housing, financial assistance and medical treatment to clean up and contractor referrals, to offer a central place where residents can get accurate timely information and connect with services to help them rebuild their lives.
Turkey vultures have long been Yarnell's unofficial mascot. The Chamber of Commerce celebrates the vultures' return every year with its annual Buzzard Bash. For the first Yarnell Daze after the fire, businesses and individuals had a wonderful time painting and dressing up buzzards purchased from the Chamber to display outside businesses and other public gathering spots, such as the library, community garden and community center.
Driving through our town you'll still see a few Turkey Vultures all dressed up to greet you!
Naturally, when it came time to create an image for the rebuilding of Yarnell, Recovery Group members envisioned a buzzard rising like a Phoenix from the flames. The committee is grateful to Sharon Seidl, firstname.lastname@example.org, for donating her time and talent to make this vision a reality.