Rebuilding After Devastation: BTC Goes to Paradise, Calif.
Helping Hairdressers Rebuild After Camp Fire in Paradise, Calif.
Imagine waking up on a Thursday morning a few weeks before Thanksgiving. You have a full day in the salon (it’s nearly the holiday season, after all) and you head to work at 8 a.m. ready to take on the day. Now imagine that an hour later, your salon—and your home, and your family and friends’ homes—are gone, including all of your belongings and everything you’ve worked for.
That’s what the residents of Paradise, Calif. experienced on Nov. 8, 2018, the day the Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history, started. Nearly all of the Northern California town’s 26,000 residents lost everything within hours.
Audrey Lansdown (@littleprettyy), owner of Meraki Salon in neighboring town Chico, saw the fire’s devastation firsthand. Audrey is someone with a giving spirit. Beyond helping hundreds of animals displaced during the fire reunite with their owners, Audrey also knew she needed to help her fellow hairdressers find ways to get tools and supplies so they could start working again. So she took action—she contacted behindthchair.com.
“Our community is now trying to house 18 displaced salons and their 200+ stylists,” Audrey wrote. “The stylists have lost everything—all of their styling tools, brushes, colors, capes, product. You name it, they lost it.”
“98 percent of these stylists not only lost their jobs on November 8, they also lost their homes, everything they personally own, and their community. Some of these stylists have clients on the missing list. And some have lost their pets and vehicles in the fire as well. I’m trying to give them a bit of normalcy and help them earn a living again, while also giving their clients some normalcy and making them feel good about themselves again.” BTC was the only company to respond out of more than 40 that Audrey emailed.
Keep reading to see firsthand how Audrey and BTC, working together, helped give the Paradise stylists the empowerment to rebuild.
The Camp Fire
Paradise is situated on in the Sierra Nevada foothills above the northeastern Sacramento Valley. Environmental factors leading up to Nov. 8—a years-long drought, low humidity, and hot, gusting high winds—built up to create the conditions for a firestorm, according to Cal Fire. That day, Pacific Gas & Electric (California’s gas and electricity utility) experienced a problem on a transmission line, sparking a fire. From there, it rapidly spread, with many residents of Paradise and surrounding communities never receiving an evacuation notice.
Here are the facts about California’s most deadly fire:
- The Camp Fire consumed about 10,000 acres in the first 90 minutes, eventually charring more than 150,000 acres—close to 240 square miles.
- At least 85 people perished, but the exact death toll may never be known.
- It destroyed nearly 18,500 structures, including 14,000 homes and residences.
- It is the world’s costliest natural disaster in 2018, with total damages costing $16.5 billion.
What the numbers don’t reveal is individual’s terrifying journeys, fleeing for their lives, to escape the flames. Almost no one received an evacuation notice. Residents had to abandon their homes, businesses and, in some cases, their pets. Many sat in 7 hours of traffic just to escape while flames rolled past.
When BTC visited, more than 2 months later, the devastation was still apparent.
Working hand in hand with Audrey and the local community, we found 150 licensed cosmetologists in need of supplies. And we definitely brought supplies. Our generous sponsors–amika, Paul Mitchell, TIGI, Colortrak, SEVEN haircare, Schwarzkopf Professional, Fromm Professional, Ulta Beauty, Victory and Farouk Systems–donated tools, sundries and products.
We loaded the Chico Community Center with the products and created a peaceful place where local hairdressers could come to see one another (many hadn’t seen each other since the fire) and pick up their supplies.
We also met baby Phoenix, born 20 days after the fire. His family fled Paradise and drove five hours to safety. He was a beautiful symbol of positivity in light of tragedy.
Thank to to the generous sponsors who stocked the Stylist Assistance Kit.
And thank you to Audrey, Mary and Janet Bardin-Gordon for making this possible.