What's long-term for CA?

Thousands of people returned home in southern California Monday but hundreds more have nothing left to return to.

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | November 3, 2003


Thousands of people returned home in southern California Monday but hundreds more have nothing left to return to.

In communities like the Waterman Canyon area of San Bernardino, 90 percent of homes were burned to the ground. In that community, six of about 60 homes are still standing.

Faith-based groups have not only helped to meet people's emergency needs but are also planning to offer long-term support for fire survivors.

The Salvation Army as well as local churches supported by national faith-based disaster response groups and Church World Service were still sheltering evacuees and displaced people.

Mandatory evacuation orders were lifted for most areas by Monday, allowing most of the more than 100,000 evacuees to return home.

The Salvation Army's Adult Rehabilitation Center set up "cashless" thrift stores at which evacuees can pick up basic necessities.

Kohl's department stores have provided donations to support the centers.

By Monday, fire fighters were winning the battle against the flames that have burned for 13 days and they expected to have containment by midweek, according to Rob DeHart, a fire information officer.

But long-term response will commence with new hazards looming over the area. As cool weather and rain arrive, the risk of landslides, flash floods and health-damaging air pollution is growing.

Bare, unstable hillsides could give way during rainstorms, sending mudslides into the base of the foothills and low-lying areas.

The 17 wildfires fueled by drought-stricken trees killed 22 people, and burned more than 3,000 homes and 750,000 acres.

The largest fire also the biggest in the state's history occurred east of San Diego. It burned 281,666 acres.


Related Topics:

Survivors struggle, help others

Episcopal churches find ways to help

Churches open doors to fire refugees


More links on Wildfires

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