What Next? An overview of Post-Fire needs in California Communities

Authors: Mitchell Snyder*, University of California - Davis
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Human-Environment Geography, Medical and Health Geography
Keywords: Fire, Community, California, Needs, Environment, Qualitative,
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 4:40 PM / 5:55 PM
Room: Virtual 9
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

We live in a volatile world. With fifteen of the twenty largest wildfires in California occurring since 2000 and ten of the most destructive in the last five years, this new fire regime of mega- and gigafires raises urgent questions for communities and scientists, who must carefully consider how these fires are increasingly impacting California residents. In order to answer the question of “What Next?” for Californians, this study relies on survey data collected from 1,887 households representing some 5,345 people and their experiences across the 2017 and 2018 California fire seasons, including the Camp, Carr, and Tubbs fires. Using this data to better understand emergent needs and geographic trends across the state, I hope to present a clearer picture of post-fire community needs to better understand what needs emerge and how those needs change over time. Preliminary findings indicate that common short-term needs, such as air quality, food, or water, diversify over time into more specialized needs. The impact of these fires goes beyond the physical loss of major assets such as houses and vehicles, as survey respondents reported increases in mental health needs over time. This paper will briefly introduce the context of the recent California fires, like the 2018 Camp fire, describe the methods used to code the needs and how these needs differ over time, and consider the limitations of the data before concluding with an overview of potential applications and future directions for similar research.

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