As wildfires rage in California, emotions are heating up.
“People are not getting along,” said Boulder Creek, California, local Alex.
In the Santa Cruz mountains, people are stocking up on gas but running out of patience.
“The whole valley was closed,” Alex said. “Closed man!”
At the local grocery store, workers are counting every single cent after being shut down for two weeks due to fire concerns.
“We definitely have stocked up on our gallon waters,” said Vanessa Russo, owner of Wild Roots Market in Boulder Creek.
Russo says wildfires during the pandemic have drastically cut into profits and are now weighing on people’s wallets and their well-being.
“A lot of our customers are having to deal with refrigeration issues and slowly having evacuations be lifted,” she said.
With thousands of homes destroyed during these fires and many businesses already suffering due to COVID-19 concerns, rebuilding could come at a cost never seen before.
“The 2020 fire could be even more catastrophic than say the 2018, which was I think was $13 billion,” said Janet Ruiz with the Insurance Information Institute.
Ruiz says the California fires could impact areas across the country.
“Agriculture, you talk about the wine industry,” she said. “Beef, the pork, all those could be affected by catastrophe.”
The economic impacts of these fires stretch from the mountains, all the way to the ocean
“So, the time when our businesses need funding from us, we don’t have it to give,” said Bonnie Lipscomb, director of economic development for the City of Santa Cruz.
Fire displaced Lipscomb’s family and they’re now living in a trailer.”
Despite the new digs, Lipscomb is still focused on helping her community during these unprecedented times.
“The impact is really catastrophic,” she said. “I don’t think we’ve seen this since the earthquake and maybe not even then.”
With much of the city’s budget funded through sales and property taxes, areas of income that were already suffering before the fires, city leaders are now seeking support from state and federal government agencies.
“We’re working on long-term recovery, but at the same time, it's day by day,” Lipscomb said.
That road to economic recovery, however, will be long and costly.