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Stories from the valley

Small Town Strong

Contributed by Jim Morris

I feared the worst as I meandered my way towards Bangor. Reports were that this small town south of Oroville was the latest casualty in the horrifying wildfires that have ravaged our state.

The scorched earth, burned cars and more than 30 homes reduced to rubble were indescribably sad, perhaps the worst natural disaster to hit the community of about 650 since it began in the 1850s. However, there was something positive in the midst of the ruin – the resolve of community members that they would band together and persevere.

“The community has really come together,” remarked Hunter Rich, whose family has owned and operated the Bangor Grocery since 1959. “Everyone here has been providing clothes, water and food for the people who lost their houses.”

The grocery store survived the fire, but the Rich’s home across the street was totaled.

A few blocks away, Bangor Community Church remained loaded with donated items for community members. It was a welcome sight for Charity Graber and her family. Charity says the late-night wildlife could have taken an even greater toll, had it not been for the actions of many in Bangor who knocked on doors to alert those asleep of the imminent threat.

No doubt it will be a tough road ahead for the town of Bangor, but Hunter tells me he’s optimistic the community will successfully rebuild.

“We are really tightly knit,” he said. “We’re strong people. We’ll get through this.”