News

Californians endure aftermath of severe fire and rain

Firefighters have finally ended California’s most deadly fire in its history. Camp Fire, located in Northern California’s Butte County, killed over 85 people with about 300 still unaccounted for.

On Nov. 8, Camp Fire ignited and raged across Northern California for 18 days. According to the Cal Fire incident report, over 13,972 residences and 528 commercial buildings were destroyed as the fire spread across 153,336 acres.

As firefighters worked hard to stop another fire known as the Woolsey Fire in Ventura and Los Angeles Counties, 96,949 acres were destroyed. With three people confirmed dead as a result of this fire, it still cost many people their homes and took a heavy toll on the communities of California.

Sienna Nealon, sophomore intercultural studies major, lives in California and said the fires have impacted everyone who lives there, directly and indirectly.

“These are real people losing everything they have in the matter of minutes and it’s important to not take anything for granted,” Nealon said.

Large amounts of rain aided in the containment of both fires; however, the rain causes many problems for search and rescue efforts. First, the rain makes bodies and remains harder to identify, which is problematic when such large numbers of people are still unaccounted for.

“It’s a disheartening situation,” Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said earlier this week in an interview with CBS news. “As much as I wish we could get through this [searching for remains] before the rains come, I don’t know if that’s possible.”

This rain, especially heavy in the area around Paradise county, has caused flash flooding, which is especially dangerous as it sweeps through areas devastated by the wildfires. The storm spewed one and a half inches of rain in the first hour, causing a rapid rise of water. Cars were trapped by both flooded roads and fallen trees. National Weather Service Meteorologist Crag Shoemaker said, “This is heavy rain in a short period of time and that’s the worst thing that can happen in the burn scar.”

Leaders are calling for people to evacuate their homes in dangerous areas. Paradise, under an evacuation order since the fire, continues to be an area of concern. As the flood hits this area it causes even more devastation.

While Southern California has fared better in terms of flooding, authorities are telling citizens to keep a look out for future warnings, especially near scars from the fires.

Some people outside of the danger zones and outside the state are doing what they can to help. Many organizations, such as the American Red Cross and the California Fire Foundation, are accepting donations for both people displaced and efforts for their rescue and the reconstruction of many communities leveled by the fires and floods. New York Times wrote an article about how to help the victims so that donations are made in the best way possible.

Rachel Shoppy, senior photography major, is devastated at destruction of so much beauty in California. Rachel interned in Los Angeles last semester and said she fell in love with California and the people in it. Shoppy believes the best way for students to be involved in the restoration of the communities affected by these natural disasters is through donations, prayer and continual awareness.

“I am heartbroken. California has so much to offer those who visit. I break California down into two parts: the beautiful landscape and the beautiful people. In this case, both parts were majorly affected and that is hard to overcome. They need our prayers and support more than ever,” Shoppy said.