The burning continues

Real lives are still on the line post-Camp Fire

The author, a former CN&R staff writer, is a Paradise resident who stayed on the Ridge throughout the Camp Fire and its aftermath.

It is nearly three months on, and what fire people do not want to hear are words like these, as from the Red Cross: “Prior to shelter closings, Red Cross caseworkers connect one-on-one with people to create recovery plans unique to their needs, help them navigate paperwork and connect with aid from other community agencies.”

Or words like these, as from Supervisor Debra Lucero: “The case management model that had previously been used by the Red Cross was not achieving the results the DESS had desired. They began to employ a new model of RED. It takes the most high-needs and barrier-prone individuals and assesses their needs.”

There is no life in these words. No human beings. No suffering. Such words are masks. Obscuring the Real. The Real that people are burning.

What do such words even mean? Nothing.

DESS. RED. Model. Case management. Barrier-prone. Assesses their needs. Navigate paperwork. Recovery plans. Connect with aid.

None of those words are real. What is real is that the people these words mask are people burning. They were burning three months ago. And they are burning today.

This is why Melissa Daugherty’s serial Second & Flume columns on the Red Cross abandonment of fire people are so valuable.

Because she speaks truth.

And she is speaking it, seemingly, alone.

“Where is the outrage?” she asks. The outrage, it seems, is confined to her alone. And to every fire person. Who are too at sea—afloat, abandoned, ignored, robbed, brushed off, told what a burden they are—to speak for themselves.

All you all: You’re better than this. You acted like it in the days and weeks directly after the fire. Act like it now. This is the first time in the history of the modern United States that an entire town burned down. Nobody asked for this. Here. But it’s here. It erased the lives of your neighbors. It’s not going away. And these are still your neighbors. And not even your neighbors. What they really are is you.