Long expected, officials moved Friday to relocate evacuees and shut down the tent city at Walmart in Chico. A Red Cross supervisor said county, city, Red Cross and Walmart representatives had convinced hold outs to relocate.
As belongings were being slowly packed and placed on trucks for the move, contractors were installing fencing around the field that at one time housed about 1,000 people. By Friday, about 50 were left.
Bobby Holt has been living adjacent to Walmart pretty much since the fire claimed his home. While folding tarps and taking down a tent Friday afternoon, he said he didn’t notice any coercion.
“I haven’t seen any cops come down here, I haven’t seen anybody like, forcing anybody out. They’re just helping people to relocate to a different place as far as what I’ve experienced myself, personally.” Holt said.
Holt said lately, it’s been windy and cold. He said he hasn’t received any cash from FEMA and is looking to piece together enough to reach Southern California and grab the first opportunity he can.
A few others said they were a bit reluctant to move on. The visual privacy tents will be missed, along with the freewheeling camaraderie of this pop-up, independent community.
Red Cross officials said that with the demobilization of firefighters, the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds became available to shelter evacuees just before midday Friday. Representatives said indoor space was available, but that dry tent spaces were available for those more comfortable staying outside.