Triage mode. That’s how Pastor Kevin Lindstrom describes the ongoing relief efforts taking place at Magalia Community Church. Each month, the tiny chapel draws thousands of people whose lives were upended one year ago this week by the Camp Fire.
Some come for furniture and other supplies needed to restart their lives. Some come for basic necessities—food, clothing, diapers. For others, the church has become home. Run by volunteers and funded by donations and a recent grant, the operation is crucial to fire survivors and perfectly illustrates the challenges and complexities of natural disaster recovery, especially for those lacking economic resources.
Indeed, the church’s relief work is a lifeline. For many, its resource and recovery center has taken the place of the long-closed tent city in the parking lot of Chico’s Walmart, the Red Cross shelter at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds, and the disaster recovery center in the old Sears at the Chico Mall.
On the eve of Nov. 8, in this wide-ranging special report, the CN&R highlights the church’s new calling, the trauma still surfacing, the efforts of county officials to prepare for future disasters, the local district attorney’s investigation into PG&E, and many other stories worth revisiting on the anniversary of the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history.