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The City of Redding (City) is working closely with Shasta County (County) to create a unified response to the recovery in conjunction with state and federal officials. The City has never dealt with an event of this scope and this will be a long-term process.
City Manager Barry Tippin met with Sean McGlynn, City Manager for Santa Rosa, on Tuesday, July 31, 2018, to talk about some of the challenges that were faced during the Santa Rosa recovery process. During a meeting, McGlynn cautioned the City against moving too quickly and fast-tracking the recovery process. “You can move too quickly and risk not catching things that need to be repaired, or cause residents to enter spaces that are unsafe,” said McGlynn. He continued to say, “Take the necessary time to make sure residents are safe and infrastructure is able to be properly repaired.”
The Carr Fire moved through the County and into the City of Redding on July 26, forcing evacuations throughout the western portion of the City. Tippin reiterates the need for patience as the City works to repopulate areas that were evacuated. “It will take us years to reach the point we were 10 days ago,” he says. “We can’t rush this process. We have to ensure the health and safety of our City and its residents, first and foremost. On top of that, we have sustained millions of dollars of damage that needs to be repaired.”
Local, state and federal agencies are working together to facilitate the repopulation of neighborhoods with homes that have been damaged or destroyed in the fire, including the process for safe removal and handling of burn debris and ash. The City is mindful of how patient residents have been and knows how badly residents want to return. Getting individuals and families back into their homes as soon as it is safe is a top priority. It is important to remember that part of the reentry effort is dependent upon the status of utilities, and the ability to supply active lines to and from the home.
There are many items taken into consideration when deciding to open an area for repopulation:
1. Existing fire threats to the City – there are still active fires threatening portions of Shasta County; therefore, protecting life and property occupies the majority of our attention and is our priority.
2. The more damage a neighborhood has sustained, the more complex and lengthy the effort is to make the area safe for reentry – although an area may have been burned days ago, there are still hazards such as: hot foundations, ash pits where trees once stood, flare ups, debris hazards on the ground and in the air.
3. Status of utilities – utility companies, including electricity and natural gas service, are working diligently to restore service. This includes damaged utility poles or lines that need to be repaired or replaced.
4. Amount of toxic materials on the ground from the burn; an assessment needs to be made on what is present and disposal requirements.
5. Coordination between agencies – a large amount of coordination is taking place between multiple agencies. There are many agencies and crews that have a part in ensuring the area is safe for return. The size and scope of the impacted area is a challenge and will take time to secure.
6. Protective equipment kits for returning residents – the City will provide residents with kits when they are allowed to return to neighborhoods that have sustained fire damage. Safety items such as gloves, safety glasses, Tyvek suits, masks, trash bags or other items may be included as needed, and will be distributed by the Red Cross.
City departments are still assessing how much the damage will cost to repair, and the final number will be added to the additional county-wide losses. Right now, it is estimated that over a thousand homes have been destroyed across Shasta County and many of those within the City limits. City and County infrastructure damage will add to the total cost, which has not been finalized.
When an area is ready to be reopened, CAL FIRE will notify the public. We assure you that the City of Redding is working with County, state, and other agencies, including utilities, to grant residents access to their property as soon as safety allows. In the meantime, residents and business owners of affected areas must remain evacuated.
The City cautions residents to be aware of dangers as they repopulate neighborhoods that have been evacuated. Outdoor swimming pools may have sustained damage or contain contaminated water. Also, fencing around pools may have sustained damage that allows children to enter the area. Be cautious, as piles of ash may hide sharp objects and toxic waste.
For updated evacuation and repopulation notices, https://tinyurl.com/carrfirerepopulationmap is a resource provided by CAL FIRE.
A Local Assistance Center will be opening to provide recovery assistance services to residents impacted by the Carr Fire. It will be open Thursday, August 2nd through Wednesday, August 8th at Shasta High School, 2500 Eureka Way, Redding, CA from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily, including Saturday and Sunday.
A collaborative website is expected to go live on Friday, August 3rd, with resources to assist residents who have to recover and rebuild in our community. The website will include information specific to the County and to the City of Redding. Organizations across the City and County have collaborated to provide services to residents that include much needed meals, supplies, clothing, access to housing, and employment assistance. “The community is banding together in a way that it hasn’t in a really long time,” says Tippin. “We need to build on this momentum and commit to building a strong and resilient Redding.”Click here for more fire stories.