Rebuilding California: Construction Workers Prove Essential in Times of Crisis
Despite the many beautiful parts of our Golden State, California residents live with the increasingly harsh realities of fire season.
In 2020, the state experienced 9,121 fires, totaling a loss of 4,133,520 acres in the process. Within those millions of acres affected, families were displaced, homes destroyed, businesses ruined, ecosystems disrupted, and air polluted.
Even in the lucky instances where structures aren’t lost in a fire, the smoke-filled skies and disrupted services can leave lasting effects on local economies and residents’ abilities to make a living. Despite this apparent — and growing — threat posed by wildfires, our state still has an incomplete understanding of how much each fire season really costs us.
With this issue touching so many communities, it’s almost guaranteed that each person in the state can identify their connection to wildfires, whether they were personally affected or not.
Despite so much destruction, we still have heroes in our corner.
Our state’s firefighters (and those who come from places near and far to assist) will likely come to mind first, as they bravely take to the front lines to battle the flames. But what happens after the fire is out?
That’s where our California’s construction workforce come in.
The construction industry plays a special — and critical — role in the lives of communities affected by wildfires. With their experience and tools in hand, construction workers can pivot in times of crisis to help us rebuild, deploying resources quickly and effectively where needed.
Royal Electric Company, a Build California partner, has been closely involved in such efforts. Project manager Jordan Cole was part of the charge on the Gridley Site and Bidwell Canyon projects, which were constructed for FEMA to provide emergency relief for families that were affected after the 2018 Camp Fire in Paradise, CA.
These projects provided temporary housing units for more than 300 families displaced by the fire.
“The construction industry has a foundation of a mindset based upon building to make communities better. In the cases of Gridley and Bidwell Canyon FEMA Emergency Housing, these projects focused on building a solution for families who were devastated by fires with free temporary housing,” said Cole.
Not only did these housing units provide a physical space for these families to go, but it allowed them the chance to get back on their feet after such devastation from losing their homes.
“The opportunity was given for them to regain their financial position to minimize the overall impact incurred by these natural disasters. When the industry is faced with fires or other natural disasters, resources are reallocated to prioritize efforts that will have a greater impact on a given community,” said Cole.
Along with the housing units, Royal Electric collaborated with other companies to create new, permanent roads surrounding the community. As an added level of safety, each trailer unit was given a fire suppression system.
“Given the situation with the families that were affected, it was necessary that we provided sufficient fire suppression safety for them,” Cole told Studio 40 Live.
While the rebuild efforts for the Camp Fire was certainly a memorable project, Cole explained that being part of the construction industry affords many opportunities to make a real difference in communities.
“I am lucky enough that in my job, I get to see tangible benefits as a result of a well completed project. It feels like my job matters to the overall community and that we are making a better place to live for the people we serve,” he said.
Cole also said that it’s this commitment to our state that makes a career in construction all worth it.
“At Royal Electric, we work a lot on airports and highways which support the transportation industry and I like to think that what we do can help families see each other during the holidays, or promote business development in areas that might not of had access to larger markets. Working with a company and in an industry that focuses on continuously improving the world around us makes my career fulfilling.”
Jordan Cole is just one of our state’s essential workers pushing through crisis to help build a better California — even when it feels like we’ve lost so much.
Our construction industry is proud to serve you and to #BuildCalifornia.