Camp Fire Victims Take Next Steps as Last Shelter Begins to Close

CHICO -- The American Red Cross has been working with the 50 people who still called the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds home as of Wednesday night.

After nearly three months, the Red Cross was looking to close down the last emergency shelter for people who lost their homes to the Camp Fire.

"Red Cross does not close the doors and shut everybody out. We do not do that," said Cindy Huge with the Red Cross. "We’re not in the business of that. Our caseworkers are working very hard to find a recovery plan for each individual in our shelter."

Scott Johnson told FOX40 his caseworker had been trying to help him do just that.

"That’s what he’s asking me this morning. He says, 'We can’t let you go without someplace to go,'" Johnson said.

The Red Cross has helped hundreds transition into more permanent living situations. But it’s not always a quick or easy process for both logistical and emotional reasons.

"Housing has been limited in the Chico area," Huge said. "Many people want to stay in Chico and, as I said, they want to go back to Paradise but there’s no housing there. So they have to come to the realization that maybe they’ll need to move on somewhere else."

Johnson said he escaped the Camp Fire with his brother by abandoning their car on Neal Road in Paradise.

"We had to run for our lives. In the end, we had to literally abandon the car," he recalled.

He said he’s lucky just to be alive and admits the reason he doesn’t have a plan for housing yet is in part because he’s not particularly anxious for one.

"I mean I’ve been homeless before up in the north coast," Johnson said.

But the reality of the shelter closing is still on his mind.

"Tomorrow’s one thing but the future, if you think about that, that’s a little scary," he said.

The deadline for Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance has been extended until Feb. 15. You can find more information by clicking here.

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