Almeda survivors look to inspire others with their rebuilding story

TALENT, Ore. – A Talent couple is in the final stages of rebuilding their property after everything burned to the ground in the Almeda Fire. Earlier this year, NBC5 News told you about how they were having trouble getting permits, as they went through the rebuilding process. Shortly after NBC5 News aired a story about the rebuilding issues some were facing in Talent, the city worked with residents, resolving their concerns.

Seven months later many of those neighbors we talked with are moving in and settling down in their new homes. The last time we talked with Talent woman Carol Berger, she and her husband, Frederic, were told they couldn’t rebuild their home.

“To say you cannot build your house again on your property seems … well, it robbed me of sleep last night,” said Fredric Berger, back in March 2021.

Carol’s in a much better place now she’s settling into her newly built home.

“We have been here all of 8 days,” said Carol, “It really truly is a homecoming”.

It took time, but the Berger’s were able to work with the City of Talent and FEMA to get it done. Their property is on a flood plain, creating headaches in the rebuild process. Now, after raising the home two feet, they’re better protected from any potential Wagner Creek flooding.

“It was that kind of community effort and community building, listening to one another that’s the way things can be done now,” said Carol.

There’s still more work to be done, but the couple says they’re up for it. They’re just happy they’re in their new home, which is an exact replica of the old one.

“Bi-golly this was our home and we wanted to have it back,” said Carol.

As they continue to fix up the property, they’re keeping mementos of the Almeda Fire like a blackened tree stump.

“I still have nightmare dreams. I’m still triggered by smoke and the sound of sirens, but I’m also quick to remember some good came for us personally and there’s my reminder,” said Carol.

Carol spent her career as an occupational therapist helping people heal through their trauma. Now she’s found her own way to do just that through this mosaic in her front yard.

“The day after the fire there was nothing but rubble. And I saw this glisten of color and I kicked it away with my foot and under the ash were all my stepping stones. More than 20 of them, almost all of them survived. That gave me hope,” said Carol.

That hope is pushing her every day. She now wants others to see what they’ve done and know that rebuilding is possible. Carol wants to thank the city and community of Talent for all the support. She’s also encouraging others to keep pushing through the rebuilding process.

NBC5 News reporter Katie Streit comes from her hometown, Las Vegas. Katie went to the Hank Greenspun School of Journalism & Media Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While in Las Vegas, Katie won a Student Emmy for her coverage of the Las Vegas Shooting Anniversary. She also hosted and produced the university's political news show, where she interviewed Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak and Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-1). Her passion for politics turned into a coveted internship at the US Capitol in Washington D.C. In her final months working in the Las Vegas area, she was recognized for her journalism achievements by the Nevada Broadcaster's Foundation. Katie is excited to tell the stories of local Southern Oregonians and Northern Californians. Feel free to contact her at [email protected]
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