A large helping of federal aid should help streamline and speed reconstruction in Paradise.
This week the U.S. Department of Commerce announced a $300,000 grant was issued to the town to help recruit and hire a Disaster Recovery Manager. The funds are in addition to $75,000 committed locally.
The announcement was made Monday at Santa Rosa Junior College. There Town Manager Lauren Gill said the position is critical. She said about 26,000 residents lost their homes and they need help and guidance.
“Most of them have never built a home before,” she said. “They don’t know the first step in rebuilding a home.”
Another $7 million grant was also awarded for new facilities at Santa Rosa Junior College to help teach residential and commercial construction. The destructive Tubbs Fire there destroyed 5,636 structures in Sonoma County. It was one of several major fires to strike the area in 2017.
Gill said she’d like to see a similar program developed locally a Butte College, as the demand for skilled craftspeople is overwhelming. Hiring a new staffer solely focused on reconstruction was among recommendations made by city planning consultants Urban Design Associates, she said.
“This position will oversee all aspects of the disaster recovery, many of the difficult and complicated projects that are involved in rebuilding a whole town after a devastating disaster,” Gill said.
Money for both grants is part of some $60 million tacked on to the 2018 federal budget for “Economic Adjustment Assistance.”