Lessons from Malden teach volumes about how to strengthen community resilience

Horse in a pasture against background of green rolling hills in Malden, WA
Less than 300 residents call tiny Malden, Washington home. The town is nestled in the green, rolling hills of the Palouse about 40 miles south of Spokane. The Babb Road wildfire erased 80% of the buildings in this quiet rural community in a matter of hours.

“Plenty of people are willing to step up and help, but coordination is the heavy lift.”

“Plenty of people are willing to step up and help, but coordination is the heavy lift,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “We were able to embed with the community and listen carefully to their needs. Sorting out the processes for getting what they need is something local leaders very often just don’t have the capacity to track down and do in the midst of such chaos.”

“The measure of any community is the way it handles adversity.”

Public Works Board Chair Kathryn Gardow said, “The measure of any community is the way it handles adversity. Few towns have been tested as harshly as Malden, and their resolve and passion to rebuild after this devastating fire is clear. The Public Works Board is proud to stand with the town of Malden as it rebuilds and transitions to a brighter future and look forward to seeing Malden rebuilt better than ever.”

Mayor Dan Harwood and Town Clerk Micki Harnois
Mayor Dan Harwood and Town Clerk Micki Harnois are among the dedicated leaders working tirelessly to rebuild their community where so many families lost everything.

“We didn’t come in with pre-conceived notions and try to do things right away. We started slow and kept showing up.”

“We showed up and we stayed; we were there week after week,” said Brown.

“We all work as a team. We’re now in full-blown recovery mode. Malden will be back and we’ll be back better.”

New flagpole installed on the site of what will be the town’s new post office.
A fresh flag waves from a new flagpole where a new post office building will soon stand, seeming to signal that Malden is on the comeback trail.

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Washington State Department of Commerce

Washington State Department of Commerce

Washington State Department of Commerce official news and information. Our mission is to strengthen communities in our state.