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California wildfires: Trump flies in as rain storms could bring more misery to struggling state

The Camp Fire death roll rises to 71

Sarah Harvard
New York
Saturday 17 November 2018 21:07 GMT
Number of people missing in California wildfire rises to more than 600

President Donald Trump is scheduled to make an official visit to Northern California on Saturday to get a first-hand look into the anguish and damages caused by the Camp Fire, but a rain storm forecast to hit the grief-stricken region is expected to add more misery for thousands displaced by the California wildfires.

The set of rain storms, currently crossing over the Pacific Ocean, is expected to hit the Northern California region throughout the week of Thanksgiving. Based on computer prediction models, meteorologists predict there could be more than an inch of rain in the Bay Area, where the fatal Camp Fire is blazing through, by 23 November.

The death toll from the Northern California wildfire continues to rise, with 71 people dead and more than 1,000 people reportedly missing.

While the rain storm might provide firefighters battling Camp Fire with helping hand, it poses more challenges and distress for wildfire evacuees depending on shelter.

In Chico, about 300 people displaced by Camp Fire are seeking shelter in a Walmart. But with the Walmart located in flood-prone parking lot, the authorities are now asking evacuees to leave the premises by Sunday afternoon ahead of the rain storm.

There is concern that the anticipated rain storm could cause life-threatening floods and mudslides in the Bay Area.

California authorities believe they have enough beds to provide shelter for Camp Fire refugees, but the real challenge is to ensure that long-term shelter is an option for them. The Red Cross said more than 1,100 people are residing in shelters in the Bay Area and others are bunking with friends and relatives. Brian May, a spokesman for the state’s Office of Emergency Services, said there is no clear answer on how many evacuees will need housing, but authorities ordered more than 52,000 of them to evacuate at the height of the Camp Fire.

The rain storm poses a great risk for Camp Fire refugees who prefer to set up tent outdoors. Some are concerned with the lack of privacy at shelters, and others want to stay with their furry-legged friends since some shelters prohibit animals from entering. The authorities are informing them to stay near shelters where they can have access to hygiene, food, and other necessities.

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are working to find solutions to the shortage of housing ahead of the rainstorms. FEMA said it is working with state and local officials to review possible options, and it is currently looking into using travel trailers to house some of the Camp Fire refugees. FEMA used travel trailers last year for hundreds of displaced people who had their homes destroyed from a fatal wildfire in Santa Rosa, a town in the Bay Area.

Camp Fire is known to be the deadliest wildfire in US history within the last 100 years.

At around 9:50pm local time, Mr Trump landed at Beale Air Force Base, about 60 miles south of Paradise, where he shook hands with Governor Jerry Brown and Governor-elect Gavin Newsom. The president then traveled to Chico Municipal Airport to review the fire damage in the region.

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