Most know that Highway 2 is open, and the Bolt Creek Fire is under control, sort of. The recent heavy rain and cooler temperatures have helped tremendously, but it is still simmering. It is just in time for ski season and the path to Stevens will provide access.

There are still challenges. The burn scar is huge due to the immense size and acreage this fire consumed, and with rain and no trees to contain debris, the risk of mudslides and flash flooding is of paramount concern. This should not close Hwy 2 for long periods, just enough time for the debris that comes to the roadway is cleared.

Last week area leaders held a meeting to discuss these issues and how to address them, with Senator Maria Cantwell in attendance. While FEMA is involved in fire relief efforts, the communities are asking and pushing for Governor Jay Inslee to declare and emergency zone, which so for he has yet to do.

While homes and businesses were spared from complete devastation, they were trapped for weeks as some areas were evacuated, and their road was blocked. They were advised to stockpile food and gasoline, as well as other necessities such as propane for generators.

The hardship on these communities is immeasurable. They normally have fall tourists to see the foliage as well and fishers and campers. Some of the greatest losses are to local businesses.

While FEMA is involved, everyone wants to know how to help. Yes, you can donate to Red Cross or one of the Chambers of Commerce, but the best way to help is to frequent their businesses. When you are on your way skiing or going across Highway 2 to the eastside and back, stop for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Stop into the local shops for that gift you need. They are incredibly resilient and have not shuttered their businesses and will weather this event with your help. Show your support by stopping in.