Where There’s Smoke, There’s Money
by Allie Hostler, Two Rivers Tribune September 16, 2011
The Hoopa Valley Tribe received word last week they were awarded $4.1 million form a Disaster Recovery Initiative in response to the 2008 wildfires that caused a public health threat to the Hoopa area.
The money will come from a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block grant program and has been in the works for about a year.
“This is a great opportunity to do something that’s needed for the Tribe,” Hoopa Valley Tribal Chairman, Leonard Masten said.
Within one week of the month-long 2008 wildfire smoke incident over 133 patients were seen at K’ima:w Medical Center (KMC) for smoke inhalation related illnesses. More than 300 HepA filters were distributed to community members, and more were needed. Also, a temporary smoke relief center was set up at the Neighborhood Facilities.
Because the Hoopa Valley is vulnerable to wildfire smoke and its residents had prolonged exposure during the 1999 Megram fire and the 2008 wildfires, it was found necessary to improve the tribe’s preparedness should another disaster occur.
Below is a breakdown on how the money will be spent:Medical Biometric Monitoring-$477,000
Small, iPad-like devices valued at about $1,500 each, will be distributed to elders and medical patients who need to continually monitor their health condition. The devices will provide access to the clinic so patients can monitor their healthcare from home. To start, about 75 devices will be purchased and distributed based on a prioritized list of patients.
Part of the money will also be spent on purchasing portable HepA filters for those at highest risk for smoke inhalation medical complications.
Air Quality Management-$79,000
The Hoopa Valley Tribal Environmental Protection Agency (TEPA) will upgrade their out-of-date air quality monitoring devices.
Neighborhood Facilities Rehabiliation-$1.35 million
The N.F. will receive a complete overhaul of their air system to provide for a HVAC with HepA filtration. This upgrade will ensure that air quality in the N.F. will be safe during the event of another wildfire smoke incident, protecting employees while providing a smoke-free shelter for those seeking respite from poor air quality.
Other benefits to the N.F. will be roof repairs; new fire suppression system; upgraded septic system; improved access for the disabled; and ventilation secure entrances and exits.New Tribal Police Station-$1.5 million
The existing Hoopa Valley Tribal Police station will be completely rehabilitated. It will be taken down to the steel beams and rebuilt using secure building materials. Although, technically, the grant is to rehabilitate the station, in the end it will amount to a new station. It will be designed with HepA filtration, a sprinkler fire suppression system. It is still unclear where the Tribal Police will be located during construction, but they will likely be stationed at the Humboldt County substation next to Tribal Court, according to the Tribe’s consultant, Bryan Preppernau.