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Phoenix will recover

As someone born and raised in Phoenix, I’d like to offer my perspective of hope in regard to our current state of disaster.

It’s been over three months since the start of the Almeda fire, but the road to recovery from an event as devastating as this is a long and arduous one. It’s a road lined with few trees and even fewer directional signs. A road that is charred and lonely and oh, so very long. But it is not a road uncharted and it is not a road we need to travel alone.

Growing up in the Rogue Valley, specifically in Phoenix, I have experienced first-hand what the word “community” truly means. I wasn’t raised by this town, I was raised by the kind and caring people who call it home. I was raised by neighbors, by teachers, by coaches, by family members, biological and chosen. And while seeing these people suffering is what pains me the most, it is these people that give me the hope that I have for this town’s future.

The night of Sept. 8 and the days that followed, I was overwhelmed by the network of people contacting my family and me during and after the event; people who should have been solely worried about their own homes but were at the same time conscious of us. From my far vantage point of Brigham Young University, where I was attending school at the time, an endless stream of names came to my mind as I reached out to everyone I know who would be affected.

First and foremost, it was the people I was concerned about and who were concerned about my family and I. While at times all hope seems lost, my hope in others has never faltered. If anyone can rise from a disaster such as the one we faced in September, it is the good people of Phoenix, Oregon.

Let us look to our name as a beacon of hope. Like the mythical bird, we can rise triumphant from the ashes, stronger and more beautiful than ever. Why can we do this? Because we are a town of strong, beautiful people. Neighbors who have each other’s backs. Friends who keep memories alive. Volunteers who work tirelessly to help everyone they meet. Teachers and doctors and mechanics and hairdressers and bakers and small-business owners who do so much more than just their jobs. People who believe in this town because they believe in each other.

Phoenix is more than a town and it’s especially more than a town destroyed by fire. Phoenix is a community that will live on in spite of the devastation we faced three months ago. The road to recovery will not be easy, but thankfully none of us will have to face it alone. We are Phoenix, Oregon, a community of friends and family and, as our proud name suggests, we will rise from the ashes and become beautiful again, no matter how long it takes.

I love my town and I love the people in it. My heart goes out to all of you. We will rise together.

Alex Marshall of Phoenix is a student at Brigham Young University.