By Debra Moore
From the cleanup to housing, roads and more, the Plumas County Board of Supervisors received more information about recovery efforts in the wake of the Dixie Fire. Dennis Schmidt, the director of the county’s Disaster Recovery Center, gave an update during the board’s Nov. 2 meeting.
Schmidt began by reporting that 797 individuals affected by the fire have registered with FEMA thus far, with $3.2 million scheduled to be disbursed. Anyone impacted by the fire should call 1-800-621-3362 to see if they qualify. The deadline to register for help is Monday, Nov. 8.
Fewer individuals have submitted their Right of Entry forms, or ROEs. This program allows the state to clear debris from parcels destroyed by the fire at no cost to the property owner. Thus far, 654 have been collected; 514 are complete and submitted to the state, and 440 of those have been accepted. “We have until Nov. 15 to get people into the program,” Schmidt said. “We are reaching out in every way they can. This will have long-term ramifications if they don’t sign up.”
Schmidt said that in addition to social media, recovery center workers have used direct mail and phone calls, and have staffed information tables in Greenville. And they are amazed when they come across people who have not heard of the program.
Even as workers attempt to sign up more of those whose property was destroyed, state crews are removing debris now. Several different teams are on site including those removing asbestos, arborists evaluating trees and more. One is a car tagging team, verifying VIN numbers.
In addition to the state program, there is an alternate program, where property owners are working with their private insurance companies and organizing their own debris removal. Those individuals also are responsible for their own vehicles. Environmental Health staff are processing the 35 alternate requests received.
FEMA has approved a limited request for housing, meaning they will set up trailers in established parks, but will not build a housing option on bare land. Schmidt said that thus far one trailer has been set up at the Evergreen Park near Quincy, with another slated to be installed, and one is scheduled for a park in Westwood. Schmidt said that totals three this week, but he expects more.
Sheriff Todd Johns said that FEMA wants wraparound services — such as fuel, food, utilities, medical and more — before they would establish a housing area. “We have no fuel,” he said. Johns said that he has been working with FEMA, but said their programs are designed for more populated areas. “The system is flawed,” Johns said. “It doesn’t accommodate small areas like ours.”
Areas outside of Greenville are being considered, but many displaced residents want to remain in Greenville.
Highway 70 remains closed from the Greenville Wye to Jarbo Gap due to the large slide near the Plumas/Butte County line, but is expected to reopen with one-lane traffic control through the area in approximately four weeks.
Oro-Quincy Highway is now open, which links Oroville to Quincy over Bucks Lake. That roadway has a 24-hour traffic signal to control the portion that is one lane.
As for the delays between Canyon Dam and the Greenville Wye, it was reported that the delays will be limited to one hour. It has taken as long as three hours-plus to get from Chester to Quincy. Delays of 15 minutes are expected between Quincy and the Greenville Wye until Nov. 15.
The Dixie Fire burn area is back under the jurisdiction of the Plumas National Forest and is being handled by a Type 4 team, rather than the most recent Type 2 team.
Forest Service personnel were present to discuss suppression repair. Recent rains rendered the fire 100 percent contained, but also impacted suppression repair efforts.
Approximately 60 percent of suppression repair has been completed. There are 2,500 miles of fireline and all but 800 have been repaired. Another 700 miles are on private land; with 300 miles needing repair or are of unknown status.
Crews are focusing on the primary areas that need to be addressed before winter closes in. This means trying to keep primary access roads open, such as Snake Lake, Antelope, and Butterfly. Seeding projects are also underway.
District 2 Supervisor Kevin Goss asked what impact this winter’s storms could have on local roads. A Forest Service spokesman said that it “actually looks pretty good out there.” He said that the issue with Highway 70 hasn’t been attributed to the fire.
Public Works Director John Mannle said he has been working closely with the Forest Service and providing necessary materials for the work that they are doing.