Yarnell wants Arizona to know that it is OPEN FOR BUSINESS! Fortunately, no businesses were lost to the Yarnell Hill Fire so there is going to be a Grand Re-Opening of the Yarnell Business District on August 31 through September 2, and visitors are invited to come shop and eat in Yarnell. (Check the ad on page 12 to see the shops’ hours and information.)
Also, looking ahead, the Chamber of Commerce will continue with the “7th Annual Scenic Highway 89 Yard Sale” on November 2nd from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. As in the past, countless yard sales as well as antique booths, a Pie Scream Social and Live Music will be held in communities along Highway 89.
While business life goes on in Yarnell, it is going to take much longer for residents to recover from the personal and professional devastation caused by the fire. More than 121 homes were destroyed along with 16 other buildings. Additionally, business owners experienced loss of income as well as perishables during the evacuation. Many of these losses are not covered by insurance.
Well-known landmark in the area—The Shrine of St. Joseph of the Mountain—suffered damage when seven houses and out buildings were destroyed. The Way of the Cross was also damaged. Since insurance is insufficient for much of the damage, fundraising is crucial. Their website with information on donations is www.stjoseph-shrine.org
Exiled from their homes and divided by the closure of Highway 89, a group of 20 Yarnell and Peeples Valley residents conferred in person and by phone about how to rebuild their fire-ravaged community. Out of that conversation, the all-volunteer Yarnell Hill Recovery Group was formed with a steering committee made up of five key leaders representing organizations that have long provided services to residents: the Yarnell-Peeples Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Yarnell Community Center, the Yarnell Community Presbyterian Church, the Yarnell Fire Department Board and Weaver Mountains – People Who Care.
Under the direction of the steering committee, a dozen volunteer sub-committees have been formed to provide resources for everything from emergency housing, financial assistance and medical treatment to clean-up and contractor referrals. The group’s website, www.YarnellHillRecoveryGroup.org, will provide a single place for residents to get news about recovery efforts and connect with services.
Turkey vultures have long been Yarnell’s unofficial mascot. The Chamber of Commerce celebrates the vultures’ return every year with its annual Buzzard Bash. So, 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.
Yarnell is very grateful to all of the volunteers from Mennonite Disaster Services, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, Samaritan’s Purse Crisis & Disaster Response and all of the volunteers who traveled to the area on their own seeking to help in any way they could. Yarnell has been blessed with so many donations of food, water, clothing, toiletries, refrigerators and much more.
The disaster groups have now left; however, volunteers are still needed throughout the devastated area. Those interested in helping can call the Volunteer Center at 928-427-6361 or donations can be made directly to the Yarnell Hill Recovery Group, which distributes money to take care of the unmet needs of community members. The group is run totally by volunteers so no donations go to administrative expenses. Donations can be made to National Bank Account # 7600002730 or checks payable to Yarnell Hill Recovery Group can be sent to P.O. Box 1086, Yarnell, 85362. Donations are tax-deductible. Contact the steering committee at email@example.com for more information.