MIDDLETOWN, Calif. – Five months after a deadly Northern California wildfire killed four and wiped out 1,300 homes, many survivors face personal and logistical hurdles that put full recovery years away, if ever, for some.
The Sept. 12 fire torched nearly 120 square miles and caused at least $700 million in insured damages in remote Lake County.
Some survivors have moved away, unable to find affordable rentals after losing their homes. Others are determined to rebuild, even as they mourn priceless heirlooms. Still others are in a wait-and-see mode.
Yet, there are signs of hope.
It's in the grass growing on acres of once-scorched land, the hay scattered on burned lots to prevent erosion and the spontaneous applause at a dismal long-term recovery meeting when a woman says her family is moving back.