This paper presents the findings of a qualitative case study about disaster impacts and disparities, interdependencies, and recovery strategies of schools and hospitals in Paradise. The 2018 Camp Fire caused significant damages to the education and healthcare systems in the town of Paradise, CA. The 2018 Camp Fire was the most destructive wildfire in California’s history. The fire started around 6:30 am on November 8, 2018, due to electrical transmission lines owned and operated by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) in Pulga, California (in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains). Due to weather conditions—strong winds, warm temperatures, and low humidity—coupled with the dry vegetation, the fire spread rapidly, engulfing 18,000 acres of land by 2:00 pm on November 8.
Four major themes of findings emerged from the qualitative analysis of interviews with teachers, counselors, and administrators in Paradise education and healthcare systems and extensive archival research.
- First, complex and long-standing mental health challenges are the dominant impact on the educational system.
- Second, educational and healthcare impacts are shaped by social vulnerability.
- Third, educational and healthcare systems play a critical role for recovery of socially vulnerable groups due to the interconnectedness of community components.
- Fourth, adapting to new communication norms and technologies is effective for supporting educational and community recovery.
Several specific recommendations are provided based on the findings for building back more resilient and equitable education and healthcare services.