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Cherriots aids in wildfire evacuation efforts

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Five drivers helped residents of an assisted-care facility in Sublimity

The Beachie Creek wildfire expanded in an unprecedented fashion on Monday night, Sept. 7, and caused evacuation notices throughout the Santiam Canyon. By Tuesday, Stayton and Sublimity had already received a Level 2 evacuation notice, meaning that residents needed to pack their belongings and be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice. This caused significant concern for those residing at Marian Estates, a group of assisted-care facilities in Sublimity.

On Tuesday evening, Security and Emergency Management Manager Karen Garcia received a call from the Marion County Emergency Operations Center. Elliott Residential Living, on the campus of Marian Estates, had a number of residents who needed help evacuating to safety. Even with the restrictions from COVID-19, we knew we could help some of those needing to evacuate while still keeping everyone safe.

Garcia coordinated with Contracted Services Manager SueAnn Coffin, and soon after, five MV Transportation (Cherriots contracted partner for Cherriots Regional and Cherriots LIFT services) staff members arrived at the Elliott residence in Sublimity on Tuesday night. They drove one 33-foot Champion CTS Cherriots Regional bus, one 33-foot Bluebird Cherriots Regional bus, and two new Eldorado Cherriots LIFT buses.

Coffin was on-site to coordinate, and for the next two and a half hours, everyone worked to board 25 residents, many of whom were in mobility devices. The MV drivers worked together to make sure all mobility devices were secured correctly, and helped residents load their bags. A bus also showed up from Mountain View Church in Aumsville to load up more belongings and support equipment such as extra oxygen canisters.

Everyone left by 11 p.m. and one resident even jokingly asked a driver if they were headed to Disneyland. The buses arrived at Mountain Park Memory Care in Clackamas at about midnight. The MV drivers unloaded residents for the next hour and half as they found safety in their new, temporary home.

We now call these MV drivers the “heroes of the night” because of their courageous actions, and for the fact that they didn’t get back to the MV yard until 3 a.m. They exemplify Cherriots Service Excellence, and they were recognized by the national MV office by receiving the first-ever MV President’s Award. We send congratulations to them on a job well done and thank them for their brave service!

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