FEMA Opens First Exclusive Camp Fire Evacuee Housing Site

Apr 16, 2019

Marianne Warner stands outside of her new home at Bidwell Canyon. The location is the first exclusive Camp Fire evacuee housing site opened by FEMA. (April 15, 2019)
Credit Marc Albert

For roughly 20 families, Monday was finally move-in day. The accommodations aren’t luxurious, but there’s a feeling that five months after the Camp Fire, progress is tangible.  


In Oroville, a stone’s throw from California’s second largest reservoir, Marianne Warner was sporting the broad grin you’d expect on a lottery winner.

 She wasn’t counting winnings, she was looking forward to a task many see as a chore.  


“Five months in hotels, you know, you can’t cook in a hotel,” Warner said.  


She was practically giddy when quizzed on what would be on her menu, and she was already prepared for challenges.


A travel trailer hook-up at the Bidwell Canyon site. FEMA has equipped each site with utilities such as water, electricity and wastewater drainage. (April 15, 2019)
Credit Marc Albert

“Chicken, gotta love chicken, right?” she said as she laughed. “I’ll probably sear it in my cast iron pan and bake it, although I don’t think my baking dishes will fit in that oven. I might have to bake it in the cast iron pan.” 


Since the fire consumed her home — a two-bedroom, two-bath mobile home in Butte Creek Canyon — and the homes of each of her relatives, Warner has been staying at a hotel in Gridley.  


The site of her new home is a newly upgraded state park campground in Bidwell Canyon on the shores of Lake Oroville. At the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, utilities — water delivery, electricity and wastewater drainage — were added to each site. FEMA rented the whole campground from the California State Park system. It will house 70 families.  


FEMA has been renting RV slots in existing mobile home parks for months. This is the first site exclusively for evacuees. 


FEMA spokesman Dan Horvath said much more is on the way, and in short order. He said the first manufactured housing units — bigger than the travel trailers at Bidwell Canyon — are on the way to another site in Oroville. He expects people to begin moving in soon. 


“Probably two weeks from today,” he said.  


Warner, meanwhile plans to resume another favorite hobby — fishing.