Many of those in business negotiate deals; if each side gets what it wants, it is considered a ‘win-win’. However, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Mendocino County, the California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), and survivors from last year’s devastating wildfires can consider the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) recent action a “win-win-win.”
At Mendocino County’s request, FEMA approached USACE to transform its Kyen Campground on the north shore of Lake Mendocino into a group housing site for wildfire survivors. The USACE manages the campground and has been assigned by FEMA to provide housing assistance as part of the recovery efforts.
USACE Action Officer Jennifer Flanagan explained the request for site inspection process, which allows for either an individual or group site evaluation. The 12-member team is providing technical assistance to FEMA through the inspection of private sites and group sites to determine the feasibility of accommodating temporary housing units. USACE will also provide design review assistance and construction management activities associated with its Emergency Temporary Housing mission.
“Currently the team has completed 22 individual and 14 group site assessments. One of the 14 group sites, the Kyen Campground on the north shore of Lake Mendocino, is expected to be ready for construction by the end of January,” according to Flanagan.
The healthy partnership with Mendocino County, CalOES, FEMA and USACE allowed all four agencies to come together to help the survivors.
“We were able to forge a new avenue of cooperation with the county to help citizens find relief while they rebuild.” said San Francisco District Senior District Ranger Chris Schooley.
According to Schooley this is the first time a South Pacific Division, (which includes the Albuquerque, Los Angeles, Sacramento and San Francisco Districts), park area has been used as a group housing site. “This all came about around Thanksgiving with everyone coming together from USACE Headquarters in Washington D.C., Deputy CEO Steve Dunnicliff from Mendocino County and myself and other Corps staff working permit reviews over the holiday weekend. It was interesting and a learning process.”
Repurposing the campground for survivor housing may seem counterintuitive for a very popular recreation area. “But it is still a win to answer the call for this recovery effort as the infrastructure upgrades in Kyen will be available to future campers when the temporary housing ends,” Schooley added.
At the Jan. 9 Mendocino Board of Supervisors, Deputy CEO Steve Dunnicliff said there are currently 14 families living at the county campgrounds, with an additional nine families in need of housing. He went on to say the intent is to move the families in need and the county campground residents to the Corps Kyen park site as quickly as construction allows.
When the County, CalOES, USACE and FEMA work together on solving housing needs, the “win-win” becomes a “Win, Win, Win” for wildfire survivors as their home rise from the ashes of this disaster.