The Long In-Between
Last fall, wildfires tore through the heart of wine country north of San Francisco, killing 44 people, burning thousands of structures, and displacing tens of thousands.
It can take months before the first insurance payments are issued and the years-long rebuilding process can begin. During that time, victims face another kind of trauma: a prolonged homelessness. The displaced have been camping out in hotels, trailers, and friends’ living rooms while inventorying losses and tracking down receipts for everything from mattresses to mugs for insurance companies. When the payments finally come in, they are usually not enough.
“There are signs around town that say Thank you for saving us,” one victim said. “But what happens when you weren’t saved?” Five fire refugees describe their lives in limbo.