Families displaced by Oregon wildfires are still recovering heading into the holidays

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DETROIT, OR (KPTV) — Families who lost their homes in this year’s wildfires are still recovering from that on top of the COVID-19 pandemic and are now figuring out how to safely celebrate the holidays.

“Basically were able to grab wedding rings, tax documents and some of my mental health documents – that’s it, that’s what we left the house with,” Vickie Larson-Hills said, recalling the night she and her husband Kevin Hills evacuated Detroit.

She was running her mental health practice from home and watched the smoke move in.

Not only would Vickie and Kevin lose their house in the Santiam Canyon fires, so did two of Kevin’s siblings and one of his kids. A few of their other children have homes severely damaged.

“It’s been a pretty big hit for the family,” Vickie said.

In these past few months, they’ve stayed in different spots and are now renting an apartment while they look for a new house, all of which has been difficult, but then throw in a pandemic and things get even harder.

“When you’re displaced you have to eat in restaurants,” Vickie said. “This has really kind of forced us to have to go out and shop.”

Kevin would usually see his parents often but this year only once or twice. They live in a memory care facility restricted to visitors because of COVID-19.

And seeing other relatives is tough too.

“So many family members having lost their homes, we can’t get together because it would be more than six people,” Vickie said.

Now they’re figuring out the holidays.

“His ex-wife was planning Thanksgiving with his daughter and we were all gonna come and they had to cancel,” said Vickie.

Instead, they’ll celebrate with her daughter Danielle Larson and her family, including Danielle’s one-month-old baby. They say the newborn has brought a lot of positivity.

And they’re incredibly thankful for all of the donations and help in their town.

“We have a brand new grandbaby and we have connection with our community members and that’s the stuff that feeds your soul, that keeps your head above water,” Vickie said.