Last week, print and TV reporters from around the nation parachuted into Butte County for the one-year anniversary of the Camp Fire. It was a bit of media circus. Readers can catch a glimpse of the scene in CN&R reporter Andre Byik’s photo of the groundbreaking at the Hope Plaza in Paradise.
Both Byik and reporter Ashiah Scharaga got up close and personal with some of those out-of-towners. As Byik tells it, there were so many journalists front and center—just out of frame of that aforementioned photo—that Paradisians and other locals in attendance had a difficult time getting a clear view of the ceremony. Scharaga witnessed a similar scene during the nearby Ridge Key Phoenix unveiling ceremony.
On the one hand, we were happy to see those folks in town. Their coverage brings attention to an area still struggling from the aftereffects of the disaster. On the other, in most cases, we know the anniversary is the conclusion to their reporting on the Camp Fire.
For the CN&R and other local media, there’s virtually no end in sight.
This week, for example, Byik reports on how foothills residents are struggling with repeated power outages (see “Power costs”). PG&E’s so-called public safety power shutoff events—essentially an effort to avert another Camp Fire-like scenario by turning off power in vulnerable areas on red-flag days—is the utility’s go-to plan for the next decade as it works to shore up infrastructure.
Days-long shut-offs are untenable in the long-term, especially for those who rely on electricity to run medical equipment and wells, so folks are increasingly turning to generators for a backup supply. The rub: The permitting from the county is prohibitively expensive.
This is but one of the important stories we’ll be working on in the weeks, months and likely years ahead. We want our readers to know that we’re committed to being part of the recovery.
Speaking of which, one of the stories that has stuck with us is the Magalia Community Church’s ongoing aid to Camp Fire survivors (see our Nov. 7 special issue). The house of worship is a de facto relief center, providing everything from food to shelter for those burned out or economically vulnerable as a result of the disaster. The operation relies on donations. Through the holidays, we’re making the CN&R a drop-off center for unopened, nonperishable food—canned and dry goods. Donations will be taken during business hours weekdays at our office at Second and Flume streets.
Thanks, in advance, for contributions that will help our neighbors.