SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -- Ventura County has been added to the Presidential disaster declaration arising from December's severe freeze, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services.
Ventura is the eighth county to be designated under President Clinton's freeze disaster declaration of Feb. 9, 1999. The other counties are: Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, Monterey, and Tulare.
Federal and state disaster funds may be available to individuals and business owners who were affected by the freeze, which caused millions of dollars in farming losses. Thousands of agricultural and other workers in California farming communities - especially those handling citrus crops - lost their jobs due to the disaster that occurred Dec. 20-28, 1998.
Disaster unemployment assistance may be available to people who are out of work because of the freeze. These include farmworkers and self-employed individuals, such as farm and ranch owners. The assistance program is funded by FEMA and administered by the California Employment Development Department (EDD). People interested in applying for disaster unemployment help should call their local EDD office.
In addition, mortgage and rental assistance may be provided to eligible disaster victims who are suffering financially and, therefore, are threatened with either foreclosure or eviction from their primary residence.
Help for freeze victims and their communities has been expanded also to include crisis counseling, temporary housing, and food coupons and commodities.
People affected by the freeze are urged to register for assistance by calling, toll-free: 1-800-745-0243 (TDD, 1-800-660-8005), Monday to Saturday, 8 am to 5 pm, California time.
Disaster Service Centers are located in all the designated counties. Federal and state representatives are on hand to answer questions about the assistance programs available.