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The California Wildfires and The Spa Industry

By Camille Hoheb January 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

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Author’s note: Through conversation with peers in the industry, I was intrigued with their stories of evacuation, closures and affected lives. It was then that I realized how widespread and reaching the impact was on the industry—from spas, to esthetic schools, to skin care manufacturers and beyond. My interviews were conducted both by phone conversations and through e-mails, and represent a cross section of skin care professionals spanning from Simi Valley, California, to San Diego. Many thanks to those who shared their stories in the midst of picking up the pieces and moving toward normalizing their daily lives at work and at home.

This article was born out of an interest to share the experiences of skin care professionals affected by the California wildfires. During October and November 2007, most Americans couldn’t avoid watching the nonstop news coverage of the blazes and be stunned at the images of devastation. More than 2,000 homes were destroyed, approximately 700,000 people were evacuated from their homes, and nearly a dozen deaths and 100 injuries occurred.
     To first understand the magnitude of the fires, consider that, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), two weeks after the wildfires, more than $5.6 million in federal funds were provided to individuals and families affected by the disaster. This money can be used to find temporary housing, rebuild or repair damage, replace property not covered by insurance and help with other necessary disaster-related expenses. Following is FEMA’s at-a-glance summary, published on November 23, 2007, about the recovery efforts.

17,776 Californians registered for disaster.
$9.7 million in grants were approved for Californians, including $6.9 million for housing and $2.8 million for other needs assistance.
$38 million in U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loans have been provided to individuals and businesses.
7,566 home inspections have been completed in the disaster-designated counties.
13,068 people have visited assistance centers seeking disaster assistance and mitigation information in English and many other languages. SBA representatives are also onsite to assist with loan applications for homeowners, renters and business owners.
16,677 residents and 4,585 businesses have received disaster assistance information from FEMA’s Community Relations teams.
A grant of $822,438 has been approved for the California Department of Mental Health for crisis-counseling services for victims, which is available for those who live or work in disaster-affected counties.

  Following are personal accounts from a variety of spas in the areas of California affected by the wildfires.

  Coldwater Creek The Spa, Simi Valley, California. “A lot of smoke and some cancellations,” was how Lori Marcus, assistant spa director, described the affect of the wildfires on Coldwater Creek The Spa in Simi Valley. With only 30 cancellations during a three-day period, the business experienced no property damage or significant business interruption.

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