Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen visited the North State today to assess damage done by the Carr Fire and talk about disaster relief.
The director of the California Office of Emergency Services as well as Cal Fire and FEMA officials were also in attendance.
And even though the fire is still burning, they're already focusing their efforts on rebuilding.
Nielsen toured areas of Redding and Shasta County devastated by the Carr Fire prior to attending a press conference at the Shasta Fairgrounds in Anderson Friday.
“The scenes are truly heartbreaking,” Nielsen said. “I'm not going to sugar coat it...homes reduced to piles of ash, fences replaced by caution tape, scorched vehicles in the driveways. It really looks like a scene unfortunately out of a devastating disaster movie. But for many families here, in this area of California, and other parts of California, this is a reality.”
Nielsen also stressed the need to prepare for future hazards.
She highlighted the effects of changing weather on wildfires as seen with the unprecedented fire tornado that tore through East Redding two weeks ago.
“This tornado was two miles long, half a mile wide,” Nielsen said. “I understand it clocked in at about 143 miles per hour and about 2,700 degrees. This was a hot and fast-moving storm of fire.”
Nielsen said she met with California governor Gerry Brown Thursday, and they're both focused on finding ways to better prepare for disasters like the Carr Fire moving forward.
“We really need to change all of our assistance programs so that we can get the assistance out ahead of the hazard and disaster to help communities be prepared and to mitigate,” she said.
Despite all of the devastation, Nielsen said it was truly touching to see the amount of love and support Redding and surrounding communities have shown for first responders.
“We're all here together to support the community both as we continue to respond as well as we begin the recovery,” she said.
Nielsen says emergency alerts are the best way to share and receive information during major events like the carr fire.
She encourages everyone to register for them as well as have a plan when disaster strikes.