PARADISE (CBS13) — The flames from the Camp Fire may be long gone, but the devastation left behind can still be seen and felt one year later.
The people still living in Paradise are standing their ground because, as so many have put it, that’s about all they have.
Luke is one of the few dogs still around in Paradise. His owner Jackie Walker decided to stick around too. She’s been here since 1994. Walker retired from her job just before the fire hit last year.
“I was looking forward to traveling and stuff, I did a trip to Alaska, then all of a sudden this is it, it changed — now this is it,” Walker said.
She lost her house, her farm, and her cat all in the deadly Camp Fire. Now all she has left is a trailer sitting where her life once was. Walker survives on a generator to cook and bottled water to wash.
Her neighbor Kirk Chapman is living a little more advanced than most. He uses mini solar towers to store power and keep the lights on in his trailer. He buys his water from the store while getting by without plumbing.
Chapman relies on his creativity to get by.
He says he gets through the pain of losing everything in the fire by talking to anyone who will listen. When CBS13 crews showed up, he had a lot to say.
“I worked my whole life to have a home that was paid for, that I could afford to live in. Now I’m stuck in a bureaucratic mess,” Chapman said.
The deputy city clerk said in 2010, Paradise had just over 26,000 residents. Now that number is down to just 3,500, based on the number of houses, RVs and mobile homes.
With all that Paradise lost, those who remained in town haven’t lost hope. Even with the remnants of the Camp Fire all around them, residents say they’re not going anywhere and will continue living with limitations long-term if they have to.
“I cry a lot, but I’m hopeful,” Walker said.
“I’m a stubborn person and I have every intention to rebuild,” Chapman said.
Many residents say they’re also stuck financially, some are no longer eligible for help from FEMA or insurance money.