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Finally — real relief is coming our way | Editorial

By Editorial Board

There are days when we see our federal and state governments take actions that not only seem right, they remind us of why we would ever want a federal or state government in the first place.

Monday was one of those days, and it was fitting that the town of Paradise stood as the backdrop.

Speaking at Paradise Town Hall, Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) announced that Paradise, Chico and Butte County have been awarded millions in disaster recovery funding for primarily sewage and infrastructure projects necessitated by the 2018 Camp Fire.

In California, the total of federal grants awarded to seven jurisdictions affected by wildfires was more than $317 million — and, as should be the case, the lion’s share of the money is going directly to those most impacted by the fires.

The town of Paradise received the most grants — a sum of $199,592,735.75. Butte County received the second largest package at $72,722,679.61. Chico received the fourth-largest package of disaster funding — $12,388,409.65.

About time.

The fact the grants started on a federal level — it was LaMalfa who included the finances in federal disaster legislation that was signed into law by President Trump — and then got delivered to the state helps explain the time delay. But what matters now is the money is here, in the state’s hands — and things that were just in the “someday” category can now be tackled head-on.

As Chico city manager Mark Sorensen noted, “All of these projects were just ideas. It’ll be dependent upon a lot of variables including the readiness and how the ability to deliver some of these projects coincide with the availability of the funds so there is a lot yet to be defined and that is going to be true for Paradise too.”

Paradise Mayor Steve Crowder said “We’ve got a lot of infrastructure projects that we’ve got planned. And it’s something that the whole north state is very grateful that we’ve gotten; it’s going to be put to good use. We’re going to do great things with it.”

Among those great things are the long-needed sewer project, roads and evacuation routes, in hopes no one on the ridge ever has to live through such a nightmare again.

LaMalfa noted that as Paradise rebuilds, it can be a big part of California’s need to build more housing, saying there were “endless possibilities.”

In Chico, projects that were submitted in notice of intent application submittals that have been accepted by the review board include roadway damages because of the Camp Fire, a southeast Chico sewer tank line, Hegan Lane congestion relief and a Notre Dame bridge over Little Chico Creek. County-wide, it incudes road repair and, according to Supervisor Bill Connelly, perhaps providing some assistance to the city of Oroville, whose sewer was also impacted by a post-fire population boom.

Of course, none of this addresses an issue that’s even bigger for many citizens, and that’s the fact it’s taken so long to get reimbursement from the Fire Victim Trust Fund. But even there, under the leadership of new administrator Cathy Yanni, we’re hearing many positive reports that the pace of reimbursements and level of customer service have picked up.

The Camp Fire and its impact on the ridge, surrounding communities and tens of thousands of people was an unprecedented disaster. The only way to adequately even begin to address the crisis was with an investment of money that went far beyond anything the county or even state could do by itself.

By staying the course with this much-needed injection of funds, we can all take pride in the fact that an entirely new level of assistance — and potential rebirth — is finally on the way. Our thanks to all of those who helped make this happen.



Source: Paradise Post