Carlene Anders spearheaded the rebuilding effort almost immediately after the monstrous Carlton Complex fire raged through Pateros in 2014.
But by the following summer, work had barely gotten started when many of the same friends and neighbors were once again terrorized by the even bigger Okanogan Complex fire.
In fewer than 14 months, nearly 500 homes were lost and almost 1 million acres burned. Okanogan County saw the brunt of that damage.
Two and three years later, the rebuilding continues, even if it is a bit slower.
“Financially it’s difficult,” explained Anders. “There is disaster fatigue, and people get tired of contributing to stuff that takes time.”
The volunteers from LongTerm Recovery will also help refresh the “welcome to Pateros” sign on the edge of town, a symbol of their progress.
“This new sign is going to symbolize exactly what Pateros is going to be from here on out,” Libby Harrison, the former mayor said. She too, lost her home in the Carlton Complex and is waiting to rebuild.
“I can’t believe it’s only been three years,” she said. “But to me, it feels like a lifetime ago.”
But in those three years, she's also witnessed a transformation – Okanogan County, one of the poorest in the state, picking itself up from the ashes.
“It's gotten better and better and better every single day,” she said.