Paradise rebuild and recovery progress since the Camp Fire

Action News Now spoke with the assistant to the Paradise town manager, the town engineer, and the police chief about the recovery process since the Camp Fire.

Posted: May 6, 2020 7:56 PM
Updated: May 7, 2020 8:16 AM

PARADISE, Calif. - It's been almost 18 months since the Camp Fire, town officials and leaders shared the recovery of the town so far.

As of today, the town has received 950 building permit applications.

Assistant to the Town Manager, Colette Curtis says almost 3 quarters of those permits have been issued, and 130 families are in their new homes back on the ridge.

Curtis says since the Camp Fire they've seen steady numbers in building permit applications. The town holds monthly community meetings to keep everyone informed on its progress.

Curtis says people are responding positively to the growth of the town so far.

"There's been obstacles along the way and there are frustrations and that's very natural and we are working through those as we go but the overall theme has been lets move forward lets rebuild lets keep going lets step over these obstacles and get to what's next," Curtis said.

The community helped identified 40 projects to rebuild Paradise. Some of the projects range from improving roadways to installing an early warning system.

Curtis says the town is continuously working through those projects and applying for funding as part of their long term recovery plan.
the town already implemented some of those projects, one of those being the Building Resiliency Center.

Curtis also says there is a lot of interest from new businesses wanting to come to paradise that's currently in the works, but she says she can't share details just yet -- but people are very much interested in being apart of the rebuild process from the ground up.

The new traffic light put in at Skyway and Black Olive Drive is just one of the rebuild projects the town is working on.

Public Works Director and Town Engineer Marc Mattox says construction is ahead of schedule and only took about a month.

Construction was in the works before the fire when the town received a grant in 2015.

Mattox says even after the fire there is still heavy traffic on the Skyway, so it was crucial to move forward with this project.

The town is working every day towards its long term recovery plan, and for public works, that's no exception.

Mattox says they're working on repairing the roads and moving forward with the sewer project, which he says will hopefully attract more businesses to the town.

"We're eligible for about $37 million in road rehab funds so we can restore the roads which were either damaged by the fire with burn scars or from the debris removal process which all the trucks had a heavy impact on the town roads," he said.

Mattox says expanding roads in terms of evacuation routes is still on their agenda. Roads like Pence, Pearson, Neal, and Upper Skyway and Clark.

But the town is still seeking funding for these projects which Mattox says will require significant investments.

Crews will be striping the pavement and turning on the signal on the same day which is next Wednesday, May 13th, so take extra precautions while driving.

Paradise Police Chief Eric Reinbold told me the department has successfully recruited hired and trained four officers and one sergeant.

As staffing numbers go up the department is working on re-staffing the investigations unit.

Reinbold says they also promoted another officer to a sergeant position.

Reinbold told me the rebuild and recovery process has been a success so far.

"We have one police recruit in the academy that’s going to graduate June 5th and two police officers to fill and we have backgrounds in both those positions if we keep on our roll we will be on full staffing level at 17 sworn so we’re just moving towards so we can get back on track and handle business," the chief said.

Paradise police in collaboration with the fire department and the fire safe council have updated the evacuation plans, and people will be receiving those pamphlets and flyers in the mail very soon.

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Cloudy skies and very light scattered showers are lingering across northern California for the start of your Wednesday, but we'll be clearing out and warming up Wednesday afternoon. We'll be sunny and warmer on Thursday, but clouds will increase Friday. More showers are looking likely Friday night into Saturday, but we'll dry out again for Halloween on Sunday.
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