YUBA CITY — The road to recovery can be a long one for those who lost their homes and businesses when the Camp Fire raced through Paradise.
Mike Lampke is back in business. He’s started screen printing shirts on new equipment at his new shop in Yuba City that he’s named Phoenix Ridge.
His old location behind his home was just getting a foothold in Paradise — then came the flames.
“It was devastating for any and everyone,” he told FOX40.
He and his wife fit all their belongings in one bag. He not only lost his home, he lost his livelihood.
“Wake up in the morning and think, ‘Oh, I’m going to go to work.’ What happens if there’s no work?” he said.
Lampke now has work after opening on Plumas Street in Yuba City with some of his insurance settlement.
He attended the Summer Stroll event on the street and was welcomed with offers of help.
“This community has welcomed us with open arms and I couldn’t ask for better,” Lampke said.
He was able to retool with help from a screen printing company owned by an Oregon man who spent his childhood summers in Paradise.
“There are thousands of us that have great stories, it’s not just me,” Lampke said.
He joined with lifelong Paradise resident Ashley Carlene Lunsford, who does the embroidery and design part of the business. They also sell antiques and gemstones at their store.
Carlene Lunsford lost her beloved gemstone collection in the fire, as well as the comfort of friends who were forced to move.
“I’m going to miss all of that because I don’t have their contact information anymore,” she said.
She, like Lampke, was touched by the kindness of strangers.
“I’ve never felt more connected to people than when they were helping us with all of this,” Carlene Lunsford said.
She said starting over in a new community is scary but both she and Lampke are committed to rebuilding their lives.
“It has to be a fresh start for me, there’s no other choice,” Lampke said.
“Paradise was its own thing but that doesn’t mean other places can’t become home,” Carlene Lunsford said.
The two realize that they are luckier than others, who are still in Butte County living in poverty and still without permanent homes.