With more than 22,000 residents returning home, businesses opening their doors to employees and customers, and schools in session starting tomorrow (Thursday, Sept. 16), South Lake Tahoe is determined to turn the corner on the Caldor Fire and have its idyllic Sierra Nevada destination back to full operations.
Following nearly two weeks of evacuations over safety concerns for residents and their homes, officials, locals and businesses are pulling together to heal and return to normalcy.
“This has been emotionally draining for weeks over the numerous concerns, but we are resilient, and the countless ways our community has come together to support one another is heartwarming,” said Carol Chaplin, president and CEO of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority. “We have so much to be thankful for with the heroic men and women who saved our lives and community. Tragically our neighbors in Echo Lakes, and along the West Slope weren’t as fortunate with hundreds losing their homes. Perhaps the ultimate takeaway is to realize the fragility of our resources and the vulnerability of the places we love.”
While a full-fledged visitor outreach is forthcoming, the priority now is for residents to get settled safely and back to work. Increased openings at lodging establishments, restaurants and among recreational activities with even more opening in the next few days have also marked the community’s collective desire to rebound.
As individual plans for businesses are fluid and quickly evolving, the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority recommends contacting accommodations, dining, and activities directly to confirm availability. Also, check Destination Update and @TahoeSouth social media channels for the latest updates on re-opening.
“The City of South Lake Tahoe was evacuated and closed down for almost a full week, starting Aug. 30,” said Tamara Wallace, South Lake Tahoe Mayor. “This was a challenging time for our residents and businesses. We appreciate how the community came together and evacuated safely in order to give fire fighters the time and space to protect the City and fight the fire with all available resources. Now that the order and warning have been lifted here in South Lake Tahoe, and our iconic blue skies are back, we are ready to get people back to work and welcome visitors with open arms. So come on out and enjoy Lake Tahoe in all its beauty!”
The list of businesses and individuals who have stepped up to help during the crisis has been uplifting and inspiring. The theme of small town and neighbors helping each other, and strangers was continually reinforced with acts of kindness and generosity from the start. From ongoing efforts with the hotel/casinos and California lodging properties providing accommodations, hot meals, laundry service for firefighters, police, first responders, as well as meeting space for the Emergency Operations Center; to all the restaurants, grocery stores, and chefs who provided meals; as well as monetary donations both large and small have helped those in need. For an ongoing list of those who continue to help make the community #TahoeStrong see https://tahoesouth.com.
“Many of our businesses supported our firefighters and first responders over the past few weeks and, we’re even more enthusiastic to welcome back visitors and share the experiences we’re known for,” said Jerry Bindel, general manager of Forest Suites and LTVA Board Chair.
Evacuation orders for all neighborhoods have been lifted, with Christmas Valley and Meyers still in an evacuation warning scenario, which presents the need to stay mobile if conditions shift. With the containment at 70 percent, it remains imperative to keep traffic at a minimum in residential neighborhoods, and areas where firefighters and first responders are still working so they can safely complete the job. Full containment is expected by the end of September.
Currently, U.S. Highway 50 as well as U.S. Forest Service Lands, California and Nevada State Parks remain closed, with hopeful anticipation for openings soon. Heavenly Mountain Resort ceased operations for the season and will open for winter, Nov. 19.