Newsletter: Essential California: The cleanup after ‘a historic, almost biblical disaster’

A statue of a bear remains in front of a restaurant that was destroyed by the Camp fire.
(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Friday, Nov. 23, and here’s what’s happening across California:


The cleanup facing Paradise and other Butte County mountain towns is likely to be the largest in California history and something the likes of which officials have never experienced, with nearly 14,000 homes lost and hundreds of people still missing. “It is a historic, almost biblical disaster,” said Sen. Jim Nielsen. “Old Testament stuff.” Los Angeles Times

-- A surreal Thanksgiving of mourning and gratitude, even for those who lost everything. Los Angeles Times


CHICO, CA - NOVEMBER 22, 2018: Bruce Longacre, 61, and his daughter Anna Longacre, 26, who lost the
Bruce Longacre and daughter Anna, who lost their home in Paradise, Calif., after a Thanksgiving dinner in Chico.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

-- She lost her home and dogs in the Paradise fire. This Thanksgiving was difficult, but she’s grateful to be alive. Los Angeles Times

-- Lessons from Paradise. Will we learn them this time? Wall Street Journal

-- Who will pay to make the electric grid safe? Probably you. Ventura County Star


-- Searching in vain for a lost friend in Paradise. San Francisco Chronicle

-- Seeing things to be thankful for amid the loss. Chico Enterprise-Record

-- A Paradise man who lost everything in the fire receives a pardon from Gov. Jerry Brown for a long-ago drug conviction. Sacramento Bee

-- The big rains in Northern California cleaned the air and brought a lot of snow to the Sierra. SF Gate

-- Big stars lining up for a Woolsey fire benefit. Los Angeles Daily News

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Do not eat: National health officials are telling Americans not to eat any romaine lettuce this Thanksgiving weekend — and for the forseeable future — because of a nationwide E. coli outbreak. The advice is particularly urgent in Los Angeles County. According to local health officials, nine of the 32 E. coli cases diagnosed in the U.S. since October have been in L.A. County. There have been 10 cases total in California. Los Angeles Times


Don’t go in the water, either: The Los Angeles County Health Officer advised people planning to visit county beaches to avoid swimming, surfing and playing in ocean waters around discharging storm drains, creeks, and rivers due to the recent rainfall. The advisory is in effect until 5 a.m. Sunday. City News Service

And maybe stay off the road too: On a day hazy with smoke from the Woolsey fire, Pritzker Prize-winning Dutch architect and theorist Rem Koolhaas is grumbling about L.A. traffic. Specifically, the two hours it took to get across town. “I’m wondering if the intensity of traffic changes the city,” says Koolhaas. “It’s very obvious that car traffic is about to change radically. I think almost every city in the near future will undergo a drastic change, simply in terms of its circulation.” Los Angeles Times


Getting squeezed: Asylum seekers funneled to bridge crossings at the Texas border are being blocked from approaching the U.S. side, forced onto waiting lists overseen by Mexican officials. The asylum seekers and immigrant rights advocates say that has put them at risk of extortion, discrimination and deportation, with many telling of Mexican officials demanding money to let them pass and of watching others, further down the list, cross ahead of them. Los Angeles Times

Backing off: A retreat in the Trump administration plan to deport certain Vietnamese immigrants who have been in the U.S. for years. New York Times


How far will it go? Orange County turned blue. But can it really been Elizabeth Warren country? The New Yorker

Cautionary tale? Germany’s ambitious energy transformation has not resulted in the vast reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that were expected. Is California headed in a similar direction? Los Angeles Times


A demographer’s view: Looking ahead to an America with a white minority, with excitement and concern. New York Times

Hockey night: Anaheim will keep the Ducks and also develop the already booming area around Honda Center. Orange County Register


In Bell Gardens: Police shot and killed a man who they say was in the act of stabbing his stepfather, authorities said Thursday. Los Angeles Times


Red and lots of green: How the holidays became a boom time for Southern California theme parks. San Diego Union-Tribune

RIP: A legendary burger joint in West Hollywood became a beacon for immigrants who tried to perfect the classic American burger. But Irv’s is now over. L.A. Taco

Healing force: Gay seniors in L.A. are learning stand-up from the ultimate straight man. LAist


Los Angeles area: Sunny, 67, Friday. Sunny, 68, Saturday. San Diego: Cloudy, 68, Friday and Saturday. San Francisco area: Rainy, 59, Friday. Partly cloudy, 58, Saturday. San Jose: Rainy, 61, Friday. Partly cloudy, 62, Saturday. Sacramento: Rainy, 54, Friday. Partly cloudy, 59, Saturday.. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Sabra Jones:

“I’ve worked in New York City all my adult life, but my heart is in California, where I was born. California engraved my soul with each vista from Yreka to Vogelsang, Mono Lake and Mt. Whitney to San Ysidro. The land is my home. When I got my driver’s license, my Dad gave me a car. My dachshund Jonsey and I drove back roads, chased loose cattle, saw sunsets and sunrises, drove high, dusty, narrow mountain oil tracks, the Mojave’s spring blooming, snow on San Gorgonio, the coast’s blue curve with thumping, ceaseless ocean. One misty dusk we sat high above St. John’s Seminary, listening to the Angelus bells, on shadowed stubble fields, damp-earth smell rising, eucalyptus perfume heavy on the air. We watched a mother skunk trailed by four infants cross just in front, seeking dinner. My Jonsey leaned heavy-warm on me. Four decades on, treasure still.”

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. Send us an email to let us know what you love or fondly remember about our state. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Benjamin Oreskes and Shelby Grad. Also follow them on Twitter @boreskes and @shelbygrad.