We just passed the 7th month anniversary of the fire. Our work continues in a number of directions in Camp Fire Recovery.
1) Sheltering—we are working within the guidelines of FEMA and are preparing to assist those who are moving into FEMA villages in Corning, Gridley, and Chico. This includes both spiritual care as well as helping to provide needed supplies to people who have lost everything.
2) St. Nicholas—We continue to house the office and staff of St Nicholas Episcopal church from Paradise as well as providing spiritual space for their services. Our congregation has welcomed these displaced brothers and sisters in faith in worship and fellowship as they discern their future.
3) Pastoral care—Our Deacons Anne and Lew Powell have taken on the ministry of those on the ridge to include the communities of Concow, Magalia, Stirling City, Yankee Hill, and Paradise. Our pastor, Fr. Richard Yale is leading our Spiritual and Emotional Wellness Committee of the community’s Long Term Recovery Group to help coordinate and bring relief to those suffering throughout our entire community, as well as ensuring that there is a calming voice on several other community-organized support groups that require a steady and calming hand. A team of wonderful parishioners has adopted the Feather River School, a small school, displaced and students greatly traumatized by the fire. They provided snacks and cards with words of encouragement, during state testing. They hosted a Coffee/Tea appreciation for the staff and faculty. At the end of the school year, the six 8th graders that graduated were cheered on by friends from St. John’s in the auditorium!
4) Hospitality—The many helpers both from outside as well as from within our community have needed a place to meet. We have housed FEMA, HHS, Red Cross, Green Cross, Team Rubicon, Small Business Administration, as well as the many Long Term Recovery Group meetings needing physical space to have meetings and organize. Literally, the “inn has been full” since Nov. 9th, a day after the fire. We have converted all spaces available on our campus to accommodate any and all groups in need of physical space. This has increased our costs but we do not charge rent. We are here to help the helpers.
5) Response to Changing Neighborhoods—Life in Chico has been forever changed by the Fire. We have motorhomes parked along curbs, FEMA Villages being constructed, hotels/motels that have converted to apartments, and sadly, more homeless on our streets. Chico’s population has grown by 20,000 practically overnight, into the projected 2030 census figures. Our pastoral care groups, throughout the Chico and surrounding areas are working tirelessly to help everyone adjust to the huge population difference, the change in how our town looks and feels, helping those displaced find a place that will become home, and help those who weren’t personally affected understand why things aren’t going back to what it was, because there is no place for these people to go back to.