Evacuation warnings reignite trauma for Happy Camp residents

HAPPY CAMP, Cali. – The one-year anniversary of the Slater Fire, which tore through the community of Happy Camp is coming up. With the town currently under an evacuation warning from the McCash Fire, many residents are experiencing their trauma all over again.

“It’s frustrating, obviously, for the survivors of the community. It’s scary,” said Abby Yeager, Executive Director for the Happy Camp Community Center.

She’s been at the forefront of the rebuilding process. Last year just after Labor Day the Slater Fire burned through Happy Camp, destroying over 200 homes.

“Officials were telling people you don’t live here anymore, you live in Yreka now. You have to relocate or you have to locate to another community,” said Yeager.

Residents fought to live in the town they call home, despite being told they should move away. Now another wildfire, the McCash Fire, is threatening the area.

“Survivors who lost their home are and also residents struggle to cope with this,” said Yeager.

The McCash Fire is currently threatening Elk Creek, an area many survivors moved to once their homes burned down.

“I think those people are feeling the stress a lot. As well as those who are trying to understand what happened a year ago. I think a lot of community is still just reeling from the event,” said Yeager.

Much of the community is still processing last year’s trauma, they say they can’t fathom going through it again. They planned a Slater Fire Memorial next Wednesday. But with the recent evacuation warning and spike in COVID-19 cases in Siskiyou County, it’s been put on hold.

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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