Sunday, November 29, 2020

Political Sunday: Remembering Malden and Pine City Okanogan Valley

Malden Post Office before the fire

NPR did a brief story on Malden, Washington and the lack of a National Major Disaster Declaration after the wildfires in Washington State in early September (HERE). The wildfires in early September burned nearly all of the town including the town hall, post office, food bank, library and fire station. Pine City, a few miles away also was badly burned and one fire burned across 60 miles of Okanogan County and into Douglas County including burning into the City of Bridgeport. 

The NPR story provided no explanation as to why a National Major Disaster Declaration has not been issued. One theory is politics because Washington State votes Democrat of late and the President does not care for the governor; however, Malden is located within a US Congressional District represented by Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, a Republican. The Okanogan area is represented by another Republican, Dan Newhouse. Malden voted 2 to 1 for Donald Trump for President over Joe Biden. So if the reason is politics, it is doubly unfair. Ms. McMorris-Rodgers stated shortly after the fire "I will be working with and supporting state and local officials and doing everything I can on the federal level to ensure our communities have the resources they need to rebuild." She, did sign along with the entire Washington US congressional delegation a letter to Mr. Trump in support of Declaring a Major Disaster (

So far Malden does not have the resources to rebuild. The town had an early burst of development when the railroad came to this location with a rail stop in 1906. After the railroad pulled out their facilities in the 1920s, the town declined. There is no commercial activity remaining, but with over 80 homes destroyed, Malden will have a hard time bringing their community back without help.



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