MIDDLETOWN (KPIX) — Fire victims in Middletown have a message for the wine country wildfire victims: Keep close tabs on the government.
It’s been more than two years since the Valley Fire burned through parts of Middletown and the community is still in varying stages of rebuild. Some have rebuilt and moved back in; others chose not to, and moved on. There are still plenty of fire victims who are still fighting through the process.
There are reminders everywhere, in the burned hills, in the empty lots, and with every nail Olivia’s husband drives into the walls of their new home. It’s still unfinished 25 months after it burned to the ground.
“It’s frustrating. Sometimes I just ask my husband why did this happen to us?” she said.
Difficult because they still have at least three more months before they finish rebuilding the house they only had only owned for two months before it burned down.
Issues with debris removal delayed their rebuild process. The Army Corps of Engineers’ contractors didn’t clear enough affected soil so they had to wait for a second round of removal to move forward.
“They told me they have to go back again, wait, and go from there,” she said.
Those months of waiting could have been spent building, she believes. Instead, she, her husband and 15-year-old son are still living in their Fifth Wheel camper in the front yard.
“This has been really hard on the family, just long and hard stressful process just to get to this point.”
To those in Napa and Sonoma counties who allowed the government to do the cleanup work Olivia says, be patient and stay on top of crews. It’s a roller coaster ride, she says, and a long one, but one that will eventually be over.
“You get traumatized, but they’ll be able to make it – that’s for sure.”