There was no standing room until Wednesday evening, September 15, as displaced residents of Greenville, Canyon Dam, and Indian Falls gathered in the Greenville Elementary School cafeteria to hear what federal agency officials said. , state and local had to say about the next steps to clean up and rebuild since the Dixie fire destroyed Greenville and its two neighboring communities on (and before) August 4.
Many displaced residents had not seen their neighbors since the second evacuation before the fire. According to some, it was both sad and heartwarming to see the community come together for the information evening where directors and assistants from the various agencies showed up and offered information and details on how to proceed in the event of a problem. disaster and cleanup in the wake of the fire. .
This was the first community meeting organized strictly by agencies and not by community members or lawyers (to our knowledge) to deal with Greenville. FEMA mobile admission trailers were lined up outside Greenville Elementary School. There is also one in Quincy on East Main Street.
The evening started with District 2 Supervisor Kevin Goss visibly muffled welcoming everyone to the meeting with Plumas County Sheriff’s Deputy and Public Information Officer Chandler Peay acting as master ceremony.
“It’s heartwarming to see you all. It’s something we’ve never seen before and I hope we never will. I’ve been heartbroken for days, ”said Goss. He described the work with volunteers to plant flowers in front of schools and the path leading to the meeting.
“There isn’t much else here. I want us to keep the faith, ”Goss said. He advised his constituents to listen to what each speaker had to say and to ask questions and take the information available on the tables at the back of the cafeteria.
Next came Sheriff Todd Johns. He spoke of the sadness of knowing that many people have already left the city for good, but he was also encouraged by people from outside the area who wanted to help rebuild. He mentioned a guy’s willingness to rebuild the park so that Little League games can be played in the future and other ideas.
“I am encouraged by the things I see. I’m glad we’re all here. One foot in front of the other and we will rebuild this city, ”said Johns as stifled as Goss had been.
Men and others who followed spoke of the disaster response after August 4 to today, much of it at a time when residents were not allowed in. Some residents subsequently found it helpful and reassuring for them to do so. With so much misinformation and guesswork, having people in positions of authority to explain the process has reassured some.
California Emergency Services representative Ryan Burrs, himself a Hurricane Katrina survivor, immediately recognized Sheriff Johns who wrote a letter detailing everything the community would need.
“Because of that [letter] we are much further. The letter was ready on day one, ”from OES arriving in Greenville.
“We are a team, a fight. The disaster begins and ends locally. We move on to the next phase. We need to clear the debris. Timing is everything, ”Burrs said.
Many disaster recovery speakers spoke of the need to act quickly before winter sets in at the end of October.
Indian Valley Community Services District Director and Acting Fire Chief Bob Orange spoke about the new fire hall that will be built out of town on Highway 89 across from Standart Mine Road and Cheney Street. IVCSD owns a five-acre plot there and will have four bays for engines, a storage shed, a mobile office building for water and wastewater personnel and equipment (more to come were described in last week’s IVCSD article). He reminded the audience that a 10-person team – half from Paradise and half from Redding – showed up after Dixie Fire left town to help with the Community Service District disaster response. Orange has indicated that because of their expertise with their fires, Greenville is in a better position for reconstruction. The water is not completely contaminated (the possibility of using the water for bathing and drinking is expected to come soon). The water tanks are full and the system has been flushed according to Orange. The IVCSD temporary office is located in Quincy at 71 Trilogy Lane and the temporary phone is (530) 283-9761. Orange also brought news of a fundraising group in Clear Creek for Greenville with a clearance sale.
Jerry Sipe of Plumas County Environmental Health has indicated that public water will be released for use by September 17 in Indian Valley.
Rachel Wagner of the Cal Recycle program told the crowd, “We’re here to help you recover. It had been sent from the governor’s office. “What we want to do is be useful and help clean your property.”
Wagner, as well as most of the speakers who followed her, spoke at length about the residents of Greenville who were required to complete the entry fee form available on the Plumas County website. Wagner said local contractors have started the process of contracting with the state for the cleanup. Mid-October is the target date for cleanings.
Plumas County Health Department Director Dana Loomis stressed that residents are “eager to be on their property” but reminded the public that there are significant “hidden dangers or unknown: dangerous trees, electrical wires, structures burned with asbestos, toxic chemicals. dioxins, heavy metals. He also noticed that the ash particles are particularly toxic to the lungs.
The meeting shifted to FEMA-based discussions. A Cal OES representative urged all affected residents to register with FEMA and be sure to read all FEMA correspondence, as rejection is common when complete documentation is not available, but it does not necessarily mean that a person would be completely disqualified. Sometimes disqualification can be as simple as needing a small document before approval. FEMA representatives called (800) 621-3362 and encouraged residents to apply early, with October 25 being the deadline.
The Small Business Administration was on hand to discuss low-interest loans with a one-year deferral. The Red Cross reminded them that the Chester Disaster Recovery Center (101 Meadowbrook Loop Drive) is available with many resources including mental health specialists, replacements for medical needs (glasses, hearing aids, prescriptions, etc.) .
Midway through the meeting, many agency representatives pointed out that we are nearing the end of the first phase, which includes the disposal of hazardous and toxic materials burned. The message over and over again was to fill out the entrance fee to begin the cleanup process. There was a presentation of the two different types of cleaning – let Cal OES and FEMA do it or try to go it alone – the differences between the two were explained by two different people with the final impression that going it alone was a lot more. complicated . On the Right of Entry form, owners can specifically stipulate what to remove and what not to remove (for example, an owner wants to fix something himself). Phase 2 involves the removal of dangerous trees and all debris so that homeowners can reoccupy their property (prior to rebuilding into temporary housing, RVs).
The proposed timeline was September 24 for property appraisals to begin with October 15 as the withdrawal date. Authorities have stressed that the process should be safe but swift with a target date of late January 2022 for the completion of all debris from the Dixie fire. No local landfill site is willing to take the debris, which means the Anderson and Wheatland landfills must be relied on for acceptance of the debris.
A representative of the Plumas Forest Service stressed that the FS wants to be there for the residents and their needs at this time, especially by allowing the collection of firewood on the forest lands. She also mentioned that residents want the areas where the bulldozer lines were designed to be maintained as a future fire barrier. She insisted on wanting to hear from residents about their needs.
Perhaps the biggest announcement was the temporary trailer “village” to be placed north of Wolf Creek Road on the outskirts of Greenville. Plumas County planning has announced its cooperation over an emergency order before the supervisory board to allow one mobile home or two motorhomes on a property with hookups. In addition, the Planning Department is currently reviewing pre-approved housing plans of 800 to 1,400 square feet so that reconstruction residents do not incur additional costs and the approval process can be expedited.
For residents who may have felt in the dark before the process, or for those who felt like no one was doing anything (and there are plenty of indications online that many residents felt that way), the meeting made the residents of Greenville feel that their needs were being considered and that a plan is in place for all who want to rebuild and remain residents of Greenville to do so.