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In the meeting place of the Chico Church of Christ in California, volunteers pray before distributing relief supplies to victims of the Camp Fire.
Photo from Facebook.com/ChicoChurch

Serving amid the ashes

California church helps and hosts victims of Paradise fire.

The fire is contained, but it will be a long time before life in Paradise, Calif., returns to normal — if it ever does.

Even weeks after the devastating Camp Fire destroyed 14,500 homes and businesses, including the Northern California town in the Sierra foothills, very few people are allowed back into the affected areas, said Christie Presswood, office manager for the Chico Church of Christ, which meets about 15 miles west of Paradise.

Christie Presswood

“The infrastructure of Paradise is gone,” Presswood told The Christian Chronicle. “Nothing like this has ever happened before, and I’m not sure anyone knows what to do at this point.”

In the days after Paradise burned, the 100-member Chico congregation began working with Nashville, Tenn.-based Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort to distribute loads of supplies to those in need.

So far, the church has received three truckloads of supplies for evacuees and has helped about 350 people. The Federal Emergency Management Agency also has stepped in, providing trailers as temporary homes for many evacuees.

Many of the evacuees hope to rebuild, but there’s no timeline yet. Some have chosen to relocate. The editorial board of the Los Angeles Times questions whether or not residents should rebuild the town at all due to the high fire risk.

In the midst of the uncertainty, “it’s a different world here,” Presswood said of life in Chico. “When you drive around, the traffic is just stop-and-start, stop-and-start. You see the large number of people that evacuated to here and are still here.”

The Paradise Church of Christ lost its building in the blaze. While its members wait to rebuild, they worship with the Chico church. Presswood says the church’s attendance has increased by about 25 people a week since the fires. 

“We are just trying to welcome the people from Paradise and fold them into our church family,” she said.

The Chico church has received multiple donations to help with the recovery efforts. 

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Presswood said. “The response from the Churches of Christ around the country has been overwhelming in monetary donations — and they’re still coming.”

Those still wishing to help with the relief efforts can send donations for the Chico and Paradise areas to:

The Chico Church of Christ

995 E. Lassen Ave

Chico, CA 95973

Filed under: #ParadiseFire Chico Church of Christ Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort National News Paradise Paradise Church of Christ Top Stories

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