Paradise residents who moved after devastating Camp Fire still face extreme weather risks

Paradise, California — Extreme weather has ravaged America’s main streets, and in the past five years, at least five cities in four states have been nearly wiped off the map, all after Paradise in Northern California fell.

“At first I thought we were just going to, you know, maybe evacuate for a day or two and then come home,” Justin Miller told CBS News.

Justin Miller’s childhood home in Paradise was among nearly 20,000 homes and businesses destroyed by the bombing. Campfire 2018, which killed 85 people. He is one of those who chose not to return and is now settling in nearby Oroville.

“At first we thought, you know, once the land was cleared we could rebuild there,” Miller said. “But…then we realized the town would take a while to rebuild, so it would just be easier to move somewhere like here in Oroville.”

Last year, extreme weather forced about 2.5 million Americans from their homes, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. A study released in March found that 44% of all U.S. households are at risk from climate change.

“In the ’90s, heaven for my family was this place where they could afford their own little house,” said Ryan Miller, Justin’s older brother and a Ph.D. candidate in geography is currently studying climate migration.

“Why were we in a situation where the affordable place was also the place that presented this enormous danger?” Ryan asks. “And so, that really prompted me to see Paradise through the lens of these broader issues around housing affordability and exposure to climate-related risks.” »

Ryan and his team at the University of California, Davis, used postal records to track people’s movements after the Camp Fire. They found that in many cases, moving didn’t solve the problem but put people back in danger, with families moving to areas also at risk from other types of disasters, such as hurricanes and tornadoes.

“Maybe we’re in a situation where, increasingly, people are finding that in their search for affordable housing, they somehow have to live in an area that’s exposed to one of these climate-related risks.” , Ryan said.

“We’re going to see more potential havens, where these communities will be exposed to this threat that they may not be prepared to face,” Ryan adds.

Paradise resident Kylie Wrobel and her daughter Ellie, stayed in paradise After the Camp Fire, they largely picked up the pieces on their own, clearing dead trees and vegetation from their property while they applied for and waited to receive federal aid.

They say the house now has a new meaning for them.

“Home for me was kind of a place to live, but home will always be where my mother is,” Ellie said.

Five years later, the families of Paradise have scattered, the fabric of this small town torn apart. But don’t tell that to the Wrobels, pioneers of a new American community they hope will be resilient to climate-fueled storms.

“Seeing the city grow and build, my heart needed it,” Kylie said. “A lot of people don’t want to come back here. I had to stay here.”

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