Camp Fire debris removal operation largest in state history, victims gather for answers

Displaced citizens gather at Oroville's Boys and Girls club for a meeting on the Camp Fire.

Hundreds of displaced people gathered at the Boys and Girls Club in Oroville on Tuesday night for a community meeting on the Camp Fire.

As the State Director of Emergency Services, Mark Ghilarducci, explained to fire victims that this is the largest debris removal in state history, the room was calm as people listened, waiting to hear about the next steps in the recovery efforts.

"First of all, this debris program is going to be the largest debris operation that the state has ever seen," said Ghilarducci. "Last year I said that when I was in Sonoma that, that was the largest debris operation that the state had ever seen. Actually, it was bigger than the 1906 earthquake. And when we were all said and done with that operation, we removed enough debris to make two golden gate bridges. In this case, we are at least four times as much debris".

Douglas Poppelreiter, a displaced resident, wondered about the future of his home.

"I lost my home, and so I'm interested in debris removal, hazardous waste removal, and the other process," Poppelreiter said.

Insurance, debris removal, and irrigation services were just a few of the items on the agenda. Jovanna Garcia, public information officer for FEMA, spoke about how they're helping coordinate recovery efforts.

"What we do is we come in and act as a support mechanism for the county and the state and work in conjunction with them along with our partner which is the USSBA," Garcia said.

The cleanup process is projected to take about a year. Afterwards, rebuilding can begin in earnest, according to officials. In the meantime, displaced citizens are urged not to move back onto their destroyed property.

Power and water will be returning soon to those whose homes are still standing. A notice will be sent out via email, call, or text to consumers.

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