Summer typically signals a time for fun in the sun, but for residents living in the Redding and Paradise areas, the season was nothing short of devastating. Thousands of families have been displaced from their damaged or destroyed homes, with many experts saying that efforts to rebuild could take millions of dollars and several years to complete. Worse yet, some residents were unfortunate enough to lose their lives as a result of these two major blazes.
First came the Carr Fire in late July, which became the state’s seventh largest fire after it roared through 229,651 acres in Shasta County and subsequently destroyed more than 1,000 homes. Eight deaths are currently linked to the fire, with several thousands of people being displaced from their now-uninhabitable dwellings.
Currently, an alliance made of up non-profit organizations, religious groups, local businesses, and healthcare providers are working towards raising $15 million to help the region’s neediest families rebuild their homes. The majority of the money would go towards those who were uninsured or underinsured — about 300 people, in all — who would receive roughly $50,000 each (if all goes well). However, that might not be nearly enough to help those families finish the job, nor will it be able to help everyone in need. Survivors who seek assistance through the fundraising efforts will be vetted by a team of case managers after applying for relief.
Efforts to rebuild are made even more difficult due to labor shortages throughout California. Even though the civilian workforce in Shasta County hit 74,500 workers in 2017, the region has struggled with a construction worker shortage for over a decade. That means that even if money can be raised and granted to families in need, it may take more funding and more time than expected to complete the work.
That’s a problem those dealing with the aftermath of the Camp Fire are facing, too. Experts estimate that hazardous conditions, delayed insurance payouts, and labor shortages could mean the area won’t be completely rebuilt for another decade. Camp was even more devastating to the Paradise, California area, destroying more than 14,000 homes and businesses. The fast-moving fire caused at least 85 fatalities. The majority of those deceased were older folks, many of whom had physical or mental disabilities that prevented them from evacuating in time. Although approximately 10% of the world’s population is living with a disability, most of those who perished in the Camp Fire were either unable to secure rescue or failed to realize the severity of the situation due to their disabilities, age, or circumstances. At one point in November, more than 200 people were still considered to be missing.
Those who were fortunate enough to evacuate and survive have finally been allowed to return to their homes, only to find very little left. Although around 65% of homeowners are most likely to repair their roofs following weather damage, this natural disaster caused entire structures to be decimated. That said, not all is always lost. One family was fortunate enough to find their loyal canine, who managed to live and guard the property in their absence, waiting for weeks until they could return. Despite the fact that 44% of all households in the U.S. own a dog, not all residents were lucky enough to come home to their pets. And while some are determined to rebuild, others feel they’ll fare better by moving somewhere else to start all over.
For now, all families can do is be patient, rally together, and wait for answers — which is no easy feat when you have no place to live. But many residents are decidedly full of gratitude for the things that really matter and for all they do have, which may just get them through the holiday.