Fire victims in Redwood Valley still struggling year after tragedy

REDWOOD VALLEY, Calif. (KGO) -- In Mendocino County's Redwood Valley, fire victims have grown more than a little tired of living a day at a time, more than a year after the tragedy.

"This is my kitchen," said Tamara Canovas. It's in a FEMA trailer, in a campground filled with people still living in limbo after the Redwood Fire.

With tears pouring from her eyes, Tamara described the frustrations, especially since her landlord decided to not rebuild.

"It's taken my life. It's taken everything I had."

Nine people died in the Redwood Fire, last year-- 380 homes burned. That is not a large number when compared with Sonoma County to the south, but here, 380 homes equal one of every four.

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"There is not a simple answer to any of this," said Tamara.

The community has certainly tried. One year after the fire, Danilla Sands still sees plenty of traffic in her donation center. She has furniture, clothes, food, even toothpaste for still struggling fire victims like Dee Cope, who lost her home, as well. "I am still fighting my insurance company," she said. "Danilla is a lifesaver."

This is life is the north bay's other fire zone-- the one eclipsed by bigger headlines.

"What if this had happened and Santa Rosa had not?" we asked Danilla.

"We would be looked at a lot more."

Redwood Valley has received assistance, but not nearly enough in this underinsured region.

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"There were a little more than 90 families displaces. 90 were renters," said Jon Kennedy of North Coast Opportunities- a non-profit that has moved in to help rebuild homes. Most of the men we found working a home Friday had lost their own places. Pitch in, they say, or rebuilding may never get done.

"If nine builders build three houses a year, that's 10 years to make this place whole, again," said William Shura, who lost his home. "There are a lot of builders and they are charging top dollar everywhere. Next year fire up in the spring, build six or seven at a reasonable price?"

The cosmos helps those who help themselves. In Redwood Valley, those stand as acts of faith.

"Everybody has the same story. We ran for our lives. I'm tired of running," said Tamara.

Then, she offered us a cup of coffee.

For more stories and video about the North Bay Fires go to this page.
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