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Rebuilding San Diego

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On Oct. 22, San Diego County residents were once again faced with one of the major dangers of living in beautiful Southern California: wildfires.

The Witch Creek fire affected the North County communities of Rancho Bernardo, Poway, Escondido, Rancho Santa Fe and unincorporated San Diego County, charring nearly 198,000 acres, making it the second largest fire in the county's history, second only to the Cedar fire of 2003. Thousands of acres, hundreds of homes and numerous businesses were destroyed within a matter of days.

Now, after we have taken in our displaced neighbors, thanked our determined fire fighters, and donated our time and money to the relief effort, the time has come to help our neighbors in the rebuilding of their communities.

During the aftermath of any natural disaster, a major task of the affected community is the rebuilding of those homes destroyed. In previous natural disasters, such as the Oakland-Beverly Hills fire of 1991 and South Florida's Hurricane Andrew in 1992, thousands of homes needed to be replaced. In these instances, however, there simply were not enough independent contractors to handle the volume of needed effort. As a result, municipalities were overwhelmed, construction prices skyrocketed and contractor scams ensued.

After the Cedar fire of 2003, Stonefield Development, a mid-sized custom homebuilder in Southern California, in partnership with Rick Engineering Co., Moser Ventures and 81 homeowners in the Whispering Ridge area of Scripps Ranch, united together to rebuild their neighborhood.

This innovative model program provided the homeowners with the hassle-free convenience of having a one-stop shop source for every aspect of the rebuilding project. By pooling the resources and effort necessary to construct many homes at once, residents were able to realize considerable cost savings while still achieving one-of-a-kind homes created through a combination of seven different floor plans. With this team concept and a commitment to a speedy time-line, displaced residents were able to move into their new homes by the summer of 2005. This pioneering program set a new blueprint nationwide for rebuilding homes following natural disasters.

In the aftermath of the recent Witch Creek fire, Stonefield Development, Rick Engineering Co. and Moser Ventures are once again stepping up to help their neighbors in need, following the successful model developed only a few years ago. Together, these three firms will offer displaced families a chance to rebuild in a timely, hassle-free and cost-effective manner, at the same time allowing them to design homes that meet their individual desires.

Rick Engineering Co. is thankful for the opportunity to offer our expertise and multidisciplined services to the community of which we have been a part for more than 50 years. We are confident that by providing hands-on, one-on-one attention to each family, and producing a home that reflects their distinct personalities and priorities, we can impart a positive experience for families that are reeling from unimaginable loss and courageously embarking on the process of rebuilding their lives.

Founded in 1955, Rick Engineering Co. is the largest general civil engineering firm headquartered in San Diego, with additional offices in Riverside, Orange County, Sacramento, San Luis Obispo, Bakersfield, Phoenix and Tucson.

Submitted by Natalie Woody, P.E., civil engineering designer, Rick Engineering Co.

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