Wildfires are always a threat in California, both in the southern and northern parts of the state, but 2017 was a particularly brutal year on the wildfire front. More than 9,000 separate fires burned over 1.3 million acres of land, according to California’s Department Forestry and Fire Protection.
Of course, the 2017 California wildfires led to a significant and long-term wildfire recovery process, and it is still ongoing.
Wildfire Recovery in California
California wildfire recovery will be no easy task. There are short-term needs, such as clearing away debris and meeting the urgent needs of those affected — such as through temporary housing, meals and more. It is possible, though, that it will take years for a full recovery given just how devastating these fires were to residents, buildings, infrastructure and the economy itself.
For example, a series of wildfires raged in California’s wine country in 2017, including in Sonoma County. These fires killed 42 people and destroyed nearly 9,000 buildings.
Wildfires were scattered around different areas of the state at different times, but in Sonoma County, the fires started in October and forced about 100,000 people to evacuate the area. The effects of these fires will certainly impact both the production of wine in the region as well as the thriving tourism industry that has built up around wine production.
Government agencies and organizations like the Red Cross are helping communities throughout California recover from these fires. In the short-term, that means providing shelter and health care, delivering relief supplies, supporting emergency responders and more. The long-term recovery efforts will include the rebuilding of the various buildings and other structures that were destroyed.
It is also important to note that a lot of those damaged structures are homes, so many of those affected by the 2017 California wildfires are still without a permanent place to live. It is estimated that rebuilding will not fully swing into action until the spring of 2018.
Problems for Restoration Professionals and Contractors
In addition to time, the rebuilding of thousands of homes and other structures throughout the Golden State is also going to require a lot of manpower and information about cleanup. Contractors and restoration professionals who live and work in California permanently can’t possibly do all the work that is going to need to be done. With that in mind, there are many challenges facing the California wildfire recovery as well as the professionals who are trying to help.
Here is a look at some of the most specific challenges:
1. Shortage of Labor
Fire damage requires skilled professionals for a complete and effective recovery. Dealing with fire and smoke damage is a specialized skill, and those who can do it effectively and efficiently are scarce in the aftermath of a widespread disaster.
For that reason, many fire damage professionals are traveling to California to be a part of the recovery and to offer their services to devastated communities.
2. Significant Paperwork
With government agencies and insurers involved in the wildfire recovery process, those affected are forced to handle a lot of paperwork. So too are the professionals who are trying to help. Paperwork helps prevent fraud and keeps a large recovery effort organized — but it can certainly slow things down as both wildfire victims and the professionals who want to help them wait for approvals.
The good news is this: California’s governor has suspended many zoning and planning requirements that would make rebuilding more difficult, and he has encouraged agencies to find ways to streamline paperwork and processes.
3. Shortage of Supplies
Supplies are also scarce during the aftermath and recovery. Shortly after the California wildfires started in 2017, there was a need for short-term food, shelter, medical supplies and manpower to the fight the actual fires.
Now, there is a need for building supplies and other materials to help support long-term recovery. Given just how many people and structures were affected by the wildfires, materials are in high demand, and that is putting a strain on supply.
The road to recovery is not going to be an easy one. Learn more about the California wildfire recovery efforts.