CHICO, Calif. - The city of Chico has released a statement regarding the large camp area outside of Walmart for victims of the Camp Fire.
The release states that the city is grateful to community volunteers like Walmart that have been so welcoming in their desire to support evacuees of the Camp Fire. However, it also says that there are great concerns related to the location as a long-term camping spot sue to rain and temperature changes, as well as the lack of services available to help evacuees.
The area is private property owned by the Walmart cooperation so the city has no jurisdiction to dictate how Walmart uses the property.
Read the full statement below:
"The Campfire displaced many individuals from Paradise, Magalia, Concow and other neighboring Butte County communities. The City of Chico has proudly served as a location for care and sheltering for many of these individuals.
The City, community volunteers and residents have been incredibly welcoming in their giving and desire to support these evacuees through various proactive efforts.
Through this time, the city and our partners are aware of temporary shelters that developed during the chaos of the evacuations and the days following. These spaces of refuge created a wonderful place of kindness and wellbeing for the period immediately following the disaster.
Walmart was one of the generous community partners that offered a site for respite and relief. Courageous and compassionate community volunteers came together and built an immediate safe place for many evacuees. Once more sustainable shelter options were available out of the elements and with other necessary services, the volunteers engaged these evacuees and encouraged those staying at Walmart to move to a safe, warm place. However, this location remains in place, and does not offer the level of safety, health and services that official sheltering locations do.
The city has great concerns with the location as a long-term camping location, primarily due to the rain and temperature changes as well as the lack of services available to help evacuees. As such, it is vitally important to help these temporary residents locate to sanctioned shelters.
The City, County and Community Volunteers have done extensive outreach with the individuals at Walmart offering free bus rides to proper shelters that allow camping and animals, direct shuttles intended just for those residing at Walmart, gas gift cards, money and food. Unfortunately, some campers have chosen to stay. Because this area is private property owned by the Walmart corporation, the City has no jurisdiction to dictate how Walmart uses their property.
The City of Chico is committed to providing safe places for all residents in our community. We believe the infants, children and adults staying in tents on Walmart property deserve better. While we do not think the Walmart location is a safe or sustainable place for individuals to reside, we understand Walmart is working on viable solutions regarding this situation and we look forward to hearing their plans in the coming days."