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Community: Campgrounds and Vineyards House Fire Evacuees in RVs

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The Alexander Valley RV Park & Campground in California is typically closed this time of the year, since no tourist wants to take a dip in the nearby Russian River.

This story by Bill Swindell originally appeared in The Press Democrat.

But this year it’s packed.

The facility near Healdsburg is being used to house temporary workers for ongoing cleanup in the aftermath of October’s wildfires that destroyed more than 5,100 structures in Sonoma County and killed 44 people throughout Northern California.

The campground, owned by the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians, has housed about 40 RVs for the past six weeks as part of the effort by the Army Corps of Engineers to clear debris from residences gutted by the fires. Most people living at the campground work for ECC, a Burlingame-based company with a $240 million contract with the Corps that terminates around Jan. 1.

Campgrounds are among facilities such as tourist coastal housing, guest cottages and other spaces likely to play a role in not only housing displaced residents, but also the thousands of workers needed for rebuilding.

One economist has estimated it would take 6,300 annual workers three years to rebuild houses lost in the region.

At the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, 25 families are being housed in RVs as part of a displaced housing program by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Chad Davis, the agency’s deputy housing task force lead. FEMA also recently signed a contract with the Corps to secure up to 70 RV spaces at its campground near Lake Mendocino for people displaced by the Redwood Valley fire.

One local vineyard management company in Geyserville plans to use a motor home on its property for the family of an employee who lost their home in the fires.

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