OROVILLE, Calif. – The Oroville City Council voted Wednesday morning to declare a local emergency, due to impacts from the Bear Fire. A top priority on the city's list is saving its ash-filled drainage system.
Mayor Chuck Reynolds said the city will now be able to apply for federal funding to help the community recover from the disaster.
Action News Now reporter Kristian Lopez spoke with one man who went through the Camp Fire and also had to evacuate during the Bear Fire. He said he remembers flooding in Paradise and is worried about going through it all over again.
“I remember getting back up there when the rainy season started, to look at our property to see what was left and there was nothing left, just a big mud puddle. And I saw all of the water that came down the hill…. I wouldn't be surprised to see the same thing here,” explains Mark Rehburg, a Camp Fire and now Bear Fire survivor.
Mark Rehburg and his wife Jodi lost everything during the Camp Fire. They eventually rebuilt their lives in Oroville. But last week – the fast-moving flames of the Bear Fire forced them to evacuate their new home.
“I closed the door here thinking… this is it. I won't see it again. But we got lucky this time," said Rehburg.
The couple's home is still standing and only suffered smoke damages. But Rehburg says he's still worried about flooding.
“Where we are at, the hills are behind us, and there's a canal behind us,” said Rehburg. “We are worried it will get inundated with the ash and overflow its banks and that kind of thing into our house. They should be proactive as far as getting in there and scraping out a lot of the ash.”
The city of Oroville says getting rid of the ash is one of the city's top priorities.
“We need to remove the contaminants before we have rain and it escapes to the river,” Mayor Chuck Reynolds said. “We don’t want to compound the issue.”
The city declared a local emergency Wednesday which now allows them to apply for aid to recover from the disaster.
Rehburg says he knows exactly what it's like to have to start all over and shared this message with fellow fire survivors.
“Keep your head up, it gets better with time, but that's just it, it takes time,” shared Rehburg.