Califered by wild fires, California is rethinking their willingness to rebuild


From the campfire, Mr. Singer and his wife, Shannon, rent an apartment in Chico, about 20 miles away, with various headaches — insurance, land use planning, construction, planning — needed to rebuild their house. They also founded a non-profit organization, Paradise Stronger, which uses its background in fitness coaching to provide mental health care to residents who are coping with the trauma of a disaster. Initially, they pledged to be part of an ambitious plan to restore paradise to restore the entire city from scratch, which includes more parks and greenery, fire landscaping, and improved evacuation routes and warning systems.

But then came the 2020 fire season, which pushed a new hellish dictionary into the lexicon – “megafirs”, “hot drought”. Fire-spreading winds, which force preventive power offs, are now standard practice. In October, the Singers again found themselves evacuating their country, except that this time the fire was both on the way and it had its feast.

“This time, the area that was evacuated first was exactly where our home would be,” said Mr. Singer, 43. “You only saw smoke.” PTSD was the order of the day. “

His wife decided he had had enough.

“She turned to me and said, ‘I’m not sure if I want to build again.’ I’m not sure where I want to be anymore, “said Mr. Singer. He says he would be willing to endure it – but not at the expense of his relationship.

“I see a vision of this city and I want to be a part of it, but not if it means my marriage,” Mr Singer said.

In the meantime, the couple has clicked the pause button on their recovery plans. If they move forward, they’re also looking at spending $ 100,000 out of pocket. Their renovation plans are for a smaller but safer fire house on the same property and the estimated cost is $ 250,000. They received $ 145,000 for a structure that burned down; like nearly 60 percent of American households, learned after being extremely underinsured.

Many insurance companies as well abandoned policies together in areas considered too high a risk: The California Department of Insurance announced in October that domestic insurance companies’ refusal to renew policies rose 31 percent nationwide in 2019, jumping to 61 percent in the high-risk ZIP code.

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