Navigators Helping Guide Fire Survivors Through Rebuilding

Jan 9, 2020

Damage caused by the Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif.
Credit Noah Berger / AP Photo

Those hoping to rebuild and return to Paradise are getting a little help navigating California’s notoriously deep paperwork.

Building a house isn’t easy. Especially, if you’ve never done it before. Acknowledging the complexity, potential pratfalls and frustration, a team of volunteers are now helping Camp Fire survivors plot their return.

Colette Curtis is an administrative analyst for the Town of Paradise. She says between the actual construction and all the preliminary paperwork, the process can easily overwhelm.

“There really needs to be someone that can help residents walk through all of that paperwork, and that is what rebuild advocates do.” Curtis said.

And, now there are. Teams of trained ‘rebuild advocates’ are staffing Town Hall, able and willing to help.

“They can sit down with you and look at what you have and what you’re looking to do and try to put together a plan.” Curtis said. 

The advocates are available two days a week: Tuesday and Thursday, from 10 in the morning until 2 in the afternoon. No appointments are necessary.

Curtis said they work one on one with prospective returnees, “Walking through the building checklist step-by-step and going over finances as well.”

The checklist was designed to help expedite reconstruction by listing steps sequentially so residents can navigate their rebuild, while avoiding frustrating delays.

The advocates will relocate from Town Hall to the Building Resiliency Center, once that facility opens, likely by the end of January