Recovery is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Here at HCRN, we need to remind communities of this on a regular basis. That’s not to say that they shouldn’t be excited about the progress made, but that they shouldn’t get frustrated when things move slower than they first expected. This is especially true in the communities of Paradise and Magalia, who lost 15,000+ homes, and have had to come back from a more prolific disaster than any other community in Northern California. This week, we’re going to highlight their progress and a little of what makes these towns so special.

We spoke with Sue Saunders, our housing and volunteer coordinator in Butte County, and she painted a current picture of Paradise and Magalia. One of the first things she highlighted was HCRN’s partnership with several distribution centers in Butte County. The needs of these towns have not really declined, as the biggest issue from the fire has proven to be safe drinking water. The distribution center at Magalia Community Church still serves between 200-250 community members PER DAY. These distribution center provide much needed bottled water, but also a sense of community that residents are working hard to restore. HCRN is proud to partner with these organizations, and we love sending volunteers to help distribute goods and talk with fire survivors.

Another fixture in Butte County is the community dinner on Thursday nights. 16 months after the disaster, and they still regularly have 400-450 people show up to see their neighbors, and get the news on how other’s rebuilds are going. HCRN has been assisting at these dinners since the very beginning. They are such a special night for the residents of Paradise. Sue said, “People feel connected still. They come from all over on Thursdays to see their neighbors. Every week it’s ‘I didn’t know you were back!’” And our AmeriCorps teams serving in Paradise have taken notice as well. Saunders told us, “[The teams said they have] never lived in a community that loved each other so much…and genuinely cared about each other.” 

As of February 7, there have been nearly 800 building permit applications received and 45 homes rebuilt. Additionally, the city is very close to giving the all clear on drinking water sources. We celebrate these steps forward and we pray for safe and effective ways to bring this community back to its new normal.

As we continue through 2020, we are looking for volunteer teams to serve in Butte County. The rebuilding phase of recovery is only just beginning and we would love to have you and your team along for this incredible journey of restoration. If you would like to be a part of Rebuilding Homes and Restoring Lives, contact Travis Cox at 5743337728 or by email at [email protected]