Adia White is a freelance journalist and editor specializing in broadcast radio and digital news. Her reporting focuses on disaster recovery in Northern California and Hawaii. She has covered the aftermath of the Tubbs, Camp and Lahaina wildfires. Her reporting has been published by Hawaii Public Radio, KQED News, This American Life, Pacific Standard Magazine and other outlets. Prior to freelance reporting, White was the senior news editor at North State Public Radio.
In the fires that devastated Paradise and Santa Rosa, kids were often the most vulnerable.
Dena Kapsalis, director of student services at Paradise Unified School District, was surprised at first by how many students chose to return after the Camp Fire destroyed the town.
“I never imagined that in one day, my whole caseload would have such severe trauma due to a natural disaster,” a school clinical social worker said.
“I have kids telling me still, oh Ms. Henry I lost my stuffed animals that were in the garage and I know that they burned in there and it makes me very sad,” she said. “You know, those little things were people to them.”
Standing in the Fountaingrove neighborhood, you can see the scar of the Tubbs fire stretch across the hillside. Two years later, the trees are still charred and the sounds of reconstruction are constant.
Kemberly Mahiri shows me one of the hundreds of thank you cards she and other counselors for Sonoma County's Teen Parent Program have received. “It just chokes me up every single time,” Mahiri tells me.
Over a year after devastating fires, many families still struggle from both the initial trauma and the aftermath of the blaze.
This story is supported by a grant from the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism's Impact Fund.
This reporting is supported by the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism Impact Fund.