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September 29, 2020

Shelter sites begin to transition as fire recovery begins

SANTA CRUZ—With the repopulation of a few towns in the CZU August Lighting Complex evacuation zone, the Santa Cruz County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is now shifting attention to the needs of people who have been displaced from their homes.

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As of Thursday, the fire had destroyed 1,490 structures, 925 of them being single-family homes. Thousands of people have been displaced in Santa Cruz County.

The fire has also inspired an army of volunteers to help where they can.

“Right now I have the time and this is a good way to give back to my community,” said Matthew Morse, who was volunteering as a greeter Wednesday at the recently established Recovery Resource Center in the Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz.   

Shelter population has declined by more than two-thirds since the repopulation process began, said Santa Cruz County spokesman Jason Hoppin. The EOC started the wind-down process at the Congregational Church of Soquel, The Coastlands Aptos Foursquare Church, Twin Lakes Church in Aptos and Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium.

Shelter sites remain open at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds in Watsonville, Seventh Day Adventists Conference Grounds in Soquel, Cabrillo College in Aptos, Harbor High School in Santa Cruz, and Simpkins Family Swim Center in Live Oak. The County is now in the process of transitioning shelter operations at those spots to the American Red Cross. 

The Recovery Resource Center at Kaiser Permanente is offering about  20 resources under one roof, including the DMV, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, CalOES, Red Cross, Cal Fresh, County Environmental Health, Friends of County Parks and a list of federal, state and local agencies and nonprofits. 

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