The closure of the FEMA Area Field Office (AFO) in Lakeport at the end of January and the near-completion of the CalRecycle debris cleanup for residential lots, signals a change in the direction of recovery as the Valley Fire focus shifts towards rebuilding.
“Many County staff have been working in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and on fire recovery projects and programs since July 29, when the Rocky Fire broke out. Given the progress that has been achieved at this point, it’s the right time for many County staff to transition back into fulfilling their regular job duties,” says Matt Perry, Lake County Administrative Officer. “Fulfilling these regular job duties will also contribute towards the rebuilding process."
Donation management is one area that the County will be transitioning out of. Managing donations is not a typical core service of any local government, but a County donation management team was established when it became apparent that Lake County was going to be inundated with physical contributions.
District 5 Supervisor Rob Brown estimates there were close to 500 tons of donations that were received, sorted, organized and taken to distribution centers since the start of the Valley Fire.
The donation center at the Work Right building is slated to be closed by the end of March. “The owner of the building has a lease to another business starting in April,” says Brown. The Seventh Day Adventist Donation Center hopes to remain open at their Lakeport site for as long as the need is there. The Cobb Mountain Lion’s Club plans to keep their donation center open at the Little Red Schoolhouse until the one year anniversary of the start of the Valley Fire, September 12, 2016.
One of the larger donation items offered was the mobile laundry unit built by Brett Gayner of Sonoma County. Carol Huchingson, Long-Term Recovery Coordinator announced at the February 2, 2016 Task Force Recovery Meeting that the County is going to halt its efforts to place the unit.
Huchingson explains, “It has taken a significant amount of staff time looking for a workable location with the correct electrical and water hook ups and none of the possible arrangements pursued worked out. Staff can now devote that time to other areas of the recovery.”
Huchingson also pointed out that the owner of the existing Middletown Laundromat has reported that his facility is operating at only about 50% - 60% of capacity, thus indicating a readily available resource for Valley Fire survivors who lost in-home laundry facilities when their homes burned.
“There are volunteer organizations in Lake County doing a tremendous job helping Valley Fire survivors. County staff needs to focus on other areas of recovery to help Lake County rebuild. We are willing to support and encourage volunteer or community organizations to step in where there is a need,” says Brown.
Official information blog for the Lake County Office of Emergency Services