It’s been one year since California’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire ignited in Butte County. The unprecedented loss goes well beyond the lives and structures that perished. The survivors lost their sense of security, their sense of normalcy, their independence, and their past. We get first-hand accounts not only from the people we are serving, but we also hear about the realities of life after the fire from our Agency Relations Specialist, Lisa. She’s on the front lines of handling ongoing Food Bank aid to Butte County. And she too lost her home in Paradise one year ago.
Most recently, Lisa told us, “With winter fast approaching, everyone’s new worry is propane and staying warm. I can tell you one thing, everyone is exhausted and most people – even those that have a place to live currently – are unsettled.”
One year ago, after having just lost everything in the fire, a delightful couple receiving food at our distribution made this plea to the Food Bank, “Don’t forget about us. It’s going to be a long time.” Those words really made an impact on us and we can tell them and all the other survivors that we didn’t forget. And our supporters didn’t forget.
With your help, we have been able to maintain our efforts to support Butte County residents. Working together, food is one less thing for these survivors to worry about. In fact, you have helped us provide over two million pounds of food in Butte County over the past year!
Lisa reports, “Most of the people we see at the distributions are surprised we are still able to continue. The need for food, help, stability and someone just being kind–is still very high.”
Moving forward, there is more work for us to do as the challenges to rebuild continue. We know of one couple who just received the all-clear to rebuild on their land…it took 361 days after the fire. Many others–including even people who were insured–are using our services because of all the unexpected expenses involved with rebuilding. Though they were insured, they are finding their policies aren’t going far enough in paying for necessities like land surveys and building permits.
We as Californians lost a little bit of our innocence a year ago. We were reminded that bad things happen to good people. And we realize this could have happened to any of us.
Thank you for allowing us to continue supporting our neighbors to the north. It’s amazing what we can do when we all come together to help people in need.