Makeshift Camp at Chico Walmart Dismantled Ahead of Rain

CHICO -- The donations and services at a makeshift camp in a Walmart parking lot in Butte County are now gone.

This comes after volunteers at the campsite put up signs letting evacuees know the location would be closing Sunday.

“There’s a hundred people down there that they can’t take nothing that they gave to us,” evacuee Rocky Martin told FOX40.

Martin was one of dozens of people temporarily staying at the makeshift camp. A sign posted at the site on Thursday alerted evacuees that services and donations would be phased out.

“I think if anybody were to go by and look at it, you can realize that that’s not sustainable,” said Chico City Manager Mark Orme.

Orme says people wanting to help have been generous by dropping off donations, but with cooler temperatures along with rain expected next week, it would be hard to offer services there for evacuees.

“Those two things alone really create a deadline for people to really get into proper sheltering,” Orme told FOX40.

Leticia Burtion was one of the volunteers helping people like Michael Fluegel get to a Red Cross shelter.

The Red Cross has several shelters open, including one at the Butte County Fairgrounds that has hundreds of cots available.

“I’ve been walking the streets because it’s so cold,” Fluegel said.

“It took me a long time to persuade him and finally we went to IHOP and he said he would go with me,” Burtion said.

Burtion hoped people like Fluegel could be safe inside during the colder weather.

“Keep them comfortable in a way that allows them to realize that, you know what, hope is on the horizon,” Orme said.

Where Will Evacuees Go If They Decide to Leave?

Cady Machado has been staying in a tent at the Walmart parking lot for three days with her husband and 9-month-old girl.

“It’s the most difficult thing because you know you are doing your best 'cause that’s all I can do right now,” Machado told FOX40.

Machado was one of dozens of people still camping out in the Walmart parking lot in Chico.

As of 1 p.m. Sunday, donations and food trucks stopped coming to the lot. Butte County officials tell FOX40 there was no deadline to leave.

Officials are expecting rain in the area on Wednesday, which forced Machado to decide how to keep her daughter safe.

“She’s going with my parents to Arizona to my sister’s house," she said.

As for Machado, she said, "There’s a nice bridge with my name on it to go underneath where I won’t get flooded out with my husband."

“We can accommodate a lot of folks at these shelters still, so we are ready to go,” said Stephen Walsh with the American Red Cross.

The Red Cross has several shelters open, including one at the Butte County Fairgrounds with hundreds of cots available.

Butte County is offering free transportation to Gridley but even that couldn't convince some people to pack up and leave.

“I’ve got two large dogs and a small dog and I’m not going to separate from them,” said evacuee Shawn Loessberg.

“We are Butte County, Butte County strong. We are a community. Why are you trying to separate us like we're a plague?” Machado added.

“I’m going to ride it out, I have no choice. I want to go home,” Loessberg said.

Officials with Butte County are asking anyone who wants to donate to the Camp Fire evacuees to make a monetary donation through the Red Cross or other charitable organizations.