Glenn County was ranked No. 3, percentage-wise, in population growth in the state. The California Department of Finance released a report in December that showed the county increased in population by 1.54 percent, or 442 people, between July 2018 and July 2019.
The report cited the 2018 Camp Fire as being the lead contributor to the population increase in counties around Butte County, which ranked last out of the 58 counties with a 4.57 percent decrease in population, or 10,388 people.
The Camp Fire forced thousands of people out of their homes in the Paradise area and many of them left the area, moving to adjacent counties and other parts of the country.
Bill Wathen, Glenn County welfare director and Health and Human Services Agency deputy director, said he believes the majority of the county’s growth had to do with the Camp Fire.
He said they were able to collect some data following the Camp Fire and contacted individuals living in FEMA-supported trailers in Orland.
They also gathered general information and counted some of the RVs parked around the county.
He said one of the concerns with such a increase in population in that small time frame was strain on infrastructure – such as sewers and roads.
However, housing availability has also decreased some after the Camp Fire – but there is some development going on in the county.
“Longterm, some (people) stayed and planned to stay,” Wathen said. “People have said ‘we’re here to start over’ and we’ve seen people be successful in obtaining housing and full-time jobs.”
He said that locals were willing to help and support those in need.
“We have a really compassionate community that I believe stepped up in a time of need for neighbors from a different county,” Wathen said.
The data released in the report was part of population estimates that the Department of Finance is mandated to compile by the California Constitution and is used by various state agencies for budgeting, need assessment, distribution of funds and other uses.
According to the report, California saw an overall increase of just 0.35 percent down from 0.57 percent last year. Those two increases are the lowest recorded growth rates since 1900. The report cited fewer births, increased deaths associated with an aging population, lower international migration and higher domestic outmigration.