Just shy of five months after the devastating Camp Fire leveled the Northern California town of Paradise, two small signs of rebirth arrived Thursday in the form of the town's first two building permits for new homes.
Married couple Jason and Meagann Buzzard were the first to receive a permit to rebuild, and Jason tells the Associated Press, "We were 100 percent intent on rebuilding in Paradise. It’s home. I was born and raised there. My wife was born there and so was my daughter." They're crossing their fingers that they'll be able to move back in by Christmas.
The second permit, issued Friday, went to Colleen Corners and her husband. Corners tells the AP, "There are still lots of people struggling to just get their insurance straight. There’s still a lot to do and lots of patience is required."
Paradise Mayor Jody Jones announced Thursday that $3,500 grants are available for every homeowner who decides to rebuild, as a small encouragement.
In addition to taking the lives of 85 people, the Camp Fire destroyed more than 18,000 buildings, including 11,000 homes, displacing some 27,000 people. Debris removal has only occurred so far at 580 of the 11,000 burned home sites.
FEMA has set up some mobile homes, but only 243 families had moved into them as of March 1, according to the AP — and the agency is having trouble locating suitable sites for them. Also, drinking water is contaminated in some neighborhoods, and the process of replacing water pipes throughout the town could take up to three years.
A grocery store, a hardware store, and an auto repair shop have recently reopened — as Corners says, "Everything a small town needs."
Previously: Artist Paints Murals on Camp Fire Wreckage
Photo: Wayne Hsieh/Flickr