US A California neighborhood ravaged by wildfire, one month later

15:45  14 november  2017
15:45  14 november  2017 Source:   CNN

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  California lawmakers upset that wildfire money is left out of White House's disaster aid request Every day, Mike Thompson hears a new story about how last month's fires in Northern California have affected people's lives. Insurance is being denied. Tourism is down. Some companies have laid off workers. "Block after block of homes are wiped out and cars are melted down to their skeletal remains," the Napa Valley congressman said of his travels in Santa Rosa over the weekend. "Block after block of homes are wiped out and cars are melted down to their skeletal remains," the Napa Valley congressman said of his travels in Santa Rosa over the weekend.

In a devastated neighborhood in Santa Rosa, a professional drone cinematographer caught this astonishing footage of one mail carrier’s surreal shift. The Latest Wildfires in a Destructive Season Are Ravaging Northern California [Updating].

Burned out cars sit next to a building on fire in a fire ravaged neighborhood on October 9, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California . Ten people have died in wildfires that have burned tens of thousands of acres and destroyed over 1 ,500 homes More.

Fresh grass peeks through a charred lawn in the Coffey Park subdivision in Santa Rosa, California. © Dan Simon/CNN Fresh grass peeks through a charred lawn in the Coffey Park subdivision in Santa Rosa, California.

The engine came roaring back to life, despite the vehicle being partially burned and melted. And though their car may not look pretty, Christina Lopez and her husband concluded the fire-damaged Honda Civic was safe enough to drive.

Lopez said she was anxious to have her car so she could drive to work and take her 18-month-old son to day care. Her husband's car was lost in the fire.

A locksmith had to make a new key because the previous one was lost, along with everything else they owned, inside their now-destroyed home.

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Watch Newscasts Live. Latest Videos. Wildfires have spurred a state of emergency declaration in multiple Northern California counties. Burned out cars sit next to a building on fire in a fire ravaged neighborhood on October 9, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California .

A postal worker delivers mail to houses in fire - ravaged Santa Rosa, California . YouTube/Douglas Thron. A surreal video shows a US Postal Service worker delivering mail to houses in a California neighborhood devastated by wildfires .

Whether it's getting a new key or picking up a replacement driver's license or birth certificate, residents are busy with the essential but mundane tasks of rebuilding their lives after the worst set of wildfires in California history destroyed nearly 6,000 buildings and claimed 43 lives.

Before and after images show the devastation

Entire subdivisions were destroyed, including Coffey Park in Santa Rosa, where 1,300 homes were lost.

It's been more than a month since the Tubbs fire leveled this middle-class community that was home to teachers, police officers and firefighters.

"I thought I would come by and get my last closure before the cleanup happens," said Katie Nilsen, who had been just two weeks from putting her home on the market after a lengthy remodel.

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California wildfires are now DEADLIEST in state history.

Flames from a wildfire burn Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, in Napa, Calif. The fire is one of several burning across Northern California . The conflagrations are the latest in what’s shaping up to be one of the worst wildfire seasons on record for the U.S. and North America as a whole.

"We absolutely loved every moment and every aspect of this neighborhood," she said.

New optimism

Things remain virtually untouched since the October 9 fire, but there are some striking visuals. Green grass is popping up in the middle of some charred lawns and the first excavators are arriving to clear out the debris -- a process that will take many months; no one knows for sure.

But there is also a new level of optimism as the first insurance checks are beginning to arrive.

"A whole bunch of money," said John Wimmer, who felt a bit relieved holding a large packet from Nationwide Insurance.

A message of resilience is spray painted on a street in the Coffey Park subdivision. © Dan Simon/CNN A message of resilience is spray painted on a street in the Coffey Park subdivision.

"We'll put it in our trust, so when this is all cleared, we'll be ready to rebuild," he said, displaying an optimism that the neighborhood will eventually return to life.

But it's clear the emotional pain is a constant burden.

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"It's sad. Can't get back Grandma's china. Can't get back the pictures. Our life foundation has been disrupted tremendously," said his wife, Jody Wimmer.

Even 2 years on, home loss is tough to shake for victims of 2015 wildfires

The search for keepsakes is an ongoing process. The sounds of shovels and rakes can be heard throughout the neighborhood.

No place to settle

There is also an ongoing search for short-term housing. Neighbors told us that finding an affordable rental home in the area is practically impossible.

Homemade signs like this now dot the charred Coffey Park subdivision. © Dan Simon/CNN Homemade signs like this now dot the charred Coffey Park subdivision.

Many are staying with friends and relatives until they figure out a solution.

"There's just so many moving parts. It's hard to sleep still. It's just so much," said Evan Kubota, who doesn't think he will want to rebuild in Coffey Park. He is concerned with the lengthy timeline of not being settled and how it might impact his two young children.

Toxic ash, debris pose risks during cleanup

Coffey Park resident John Wimmer displays the newly arrived check from his insurance company. © Dan Simon/CNN Coffey Park resident John Wimmer displays the newly arrived check from his insurance company.

"Go two blocks away and it's business as usual. For us, (moving there) probably makes the most sense," he said.

An army veteran who served in Iraq, Kubota said Coffey Park resembles a war zone.

"The amount of devastation here is on par. There's just nothing left, " he said just before resuming his digging through the rubble looking for lost military medals.

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