Roy Gilbert

Maps | A year later, a community continues to scatter

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It took almost a full year for Jesse Arnold, who lived in Acres of Paradise Mobile Home Park before the Camp Fire destroyed nearly all she had, to decide to leave the place she had wanted to live in until she died. In mid-October, she drove her trailer five days across the country to Crossville, Tennessee, where a few other families from her church have already resettled.

“I tried to stay, but it’s just not doable,” she said.

She’s part of an exodus from the areas burned by the Camp Fire. It started when the fire eliminated 15 percent of the housing stock practically overnight in a county already marked by a housing shortage. Thirty-five thousand people began an arduous search across the region and country for new homes. A year later, many are still in limbo. The emigration is likely to continue.

After fleeing the fire with her pups and an old car, Arnold found a temporary place to stay in a donated 22-foot trailer at Camelot Equestrian Park. She boarded her horse, Robbie, there. Her former neighbors scattered across Northern California, though they tried to get together for a birthday party here and there. She looked for a permanent place to park her trailer nearby, but the costs were higher than those she had in Paradise and nearly twice the all-inclusive rate in Tennessee. Because the housing on the ridge was considered more affordable, its loss has placed a particular burden on people with fixed or low-to-middle incomes.

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