'The air feels different': a year after California's deadliest fire, Paradise isn't giving up

Source(s): Guardian, the (UK)
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By Dani Anguiano

The charred cars are mostly gone, the ashes and ruins largely scraped away and new greenery has sprouted up in the dirt lots where stores and homes once stood. One year after the deadliest fire in California history tore through Paradise, the town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada is slowly coming back to life. And its former and current residents are navigating a life for ever changed.


The disaster has been devastating, particularly for those without means. About 90% of Paradise’s population of 27,000 remains dispersed into nearby valley towns and cities across the United States. The estimated 3,000 who remain, living in homes that survived the fire or in trailers on burnt-out lots, are still trying to figure out how to move on.


The future of Paradise looks promising, town officials such as Zuccolillo say, and will be aided by ongoing support from the state government and a $270m settlement with PG&E, the bankrupt utility whose equipment caused the fire. The utility has also agreed to pay to put the town’s power lines underground. That funding will help pay for expensive projects such as constructing a long-desired sewer system.


Some people can’t – or don’t want to – return, unable to afford the cost of rebuilding or fearful of life in an area at risk for wildfires. In fact, most of those who lived in Paradise and the surrounding communities a year ago, no longer do. Many have stayed in California, particularly Butte and Glenn counties, where the Federal Emergency Management Agency has established housing sites for some of those affected by the fire.


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Hazards Wildfire
Themes Recovery
Country and region United States of America
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