“Wildfire Survivors Still Fight for Survival” story transcript
Daniel: Today is Wednesday, October 20th, 2021. This is the Harmony Report, a broadcast for news commentary and fresh audio stories. I’m your host, Daniel Carr, a journalism student working to provide news content from around the globe.
In the midst of worsening wildfires in California, we will be bringing attention to a family directly impacted by a climate disaster. Mike Erikson and his wife, Crystal’s, lives abruptly changed when their house was destroyed by 2018’s “Campfire,” a wildfire that destroyed nearly every home in Paradise, California. 85 people lost their lives and 50,000 people needed new homes after evacuating.
Mike and Crystal survived. When they lost their home, they had to rely on FEMA for shelter. Mike and Crystal stayed mostly at trailer 83, it was set up alongside other trailers in the city of Chico, where thousands of wildfire survivors stayed.
Mike wrote in his notebook of the difficulties he lived through. The trailer was never below 78 degrees and he lived without many of the things we take for granted. His wife, Crystal, lived with medical conditions that were difficult to navigate in her temporary stay. She suffered from a stroke prior to these events and uses a wheelchair, the bathroom is not handicapped-friendly and had no roll-in shower. Mike helps Crystal to move around by lifting her.
Their daughter, Rita, also survived the wildfire, but she could not be included in the trailer. She lived nearby in a tent. She came over to help her mom with daily tasks, happy they were alive. After the fire, Mike and Crystal stayed at the trailer for over 340 days before they were forcibly removed. FEMA wouldn’t let them keep their trailer because they did not keep up with rental searches. Their income was too low to qualify for any housing. FEMA supervisor told the Eriksons they need to leave by the deadline or the police would remove them. Their only hope: the kindness of others.
Steven Murray, a Campfire survivor, helps survivors find temporary stay after eviction from FEMA parks. When he heard of the Eriksons’ situation, he offered them stay at a hotel. Now, the support from others helps keep them afloat with enough money from fundraisers to keep them off the streets while they look for permanent housing. A GoFundMe link for the Eriksons will be in the description if any viewers would like to help out.
Worsening wildfires and other climate disasters are alarming for us to take action and prevent more of these tragic situations in the future. This also brings attention for the need for permanent housing for everyone and support for low-income families. Were hoping for a bright future for the Eriksons and others who survived wildfire disasters.
Thank you for tuning in to today’s episode of The Harmony Report. Subscribe if you’d like to hear more stories about the planet and various other topics. Again, thank you for your listenership.