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Debra Lucero hopes to establish new office to guide disaster recovery efforts, preparation

OROVILLE — Butte County Supervisor Debra Lucero is floating the idea of an Office of Resiliency and Recovery to coordinate after-fire effects and also to better prepare county residents to face future disasters.
Lucero first mentioned the idea publicly at the Board of Supervisors meeting on April 9, and said the idea came from seeing similar efforts across the county following natural disasters.
“The reason why this makes so much sense is that it allows you to get in front of disasters instead of constantly chasing them,” she said.
Lucero said she isn’t trying to push the idea through immediately, but that she’s seen similar work done and thinks Butte County — along with its major cities, churches, nonprofits and businesses — could work together in a private-public partnership that would pool resources and finances.
“We don’t have to recreate the wheel,” she said. “Sonoma has already done incredible work.”
Sonoma’s Office of Resiliency and Recovery, which was established after the 2017 Tubbs Fire, has five strategic areas that it focuses on:

Community preparedness and infrastructure: Ensuring countywide awareness, infrastructure and warning systems.
Housing: Supporting diverse, affordable and accessible places to live.
Economy: Managing the creation of new jobs, businesses and opportunities.
Safety net: Providing care for people who need extra help.
Natural resources: Working on healthy and well-managed land and water.

Lucero said she’d like to see a city and county coalition in Butte County that can deal with effects of the Camp Fire, as well as prepare for future disaster events.
“We need to be better prepared because at the end of the day, every individual needs to have awareness and a plan,” she said.
In particular, she said she’d like to focus most immediately on housing, and creating something called “RED zones,” or “Renewable Enterprise Districts” where cities and counties work together by pooling resources to provide affordable housing options.
The rest of the office and its duties can come slowly, but housing is of utmost importance, Lucero said.
“(The Federal Emergency Management Agency) is only going to deal with survivors and victims in the burn scar, they’re not going to deal with the fallout in Chico,” she said. “I thought what we really need immediately is housing.”
Lucero was just granted a scholarship to attend Harvard University’s Kennedy School program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government, where she will go to discuss her ideas later this year and return with a plan.
“You have to do things differently that we didn’t have to do 20 years ago,” she said. “This is happening all over the county. Here’s it’s fires and mudslides, but in Kansas it’s tornadoes and on the East Coast, it’s hurricanes.”

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