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Federal Assistance for Wildfire-damaged Private Bridges and Access Roads

Release Date:
November 23, 2020

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Survivors of the 2020 California wildfires who have wildfire-caused damage to their privately owned bridge or access road may be eligible for financial assistance from FEMA under the Individuals and Households Program (IHP). The assistance is intended to restore access to a primary residence.

The following conditions must be met to be eligible for Home Repair Assistance awards for privately owned access routes:

  • The applicant meets all basic eligibility criteria for IHP assistance.
  • The applicant is the homeowner and the property is the primary residence.
  • A FEMA inspection determines repairs are necessary to provide drivable access to the property.
  • The applicant is responsible (or shares responsibility with other homeowners) for maintaining the privately owned access route to their primary residence.
  • The privately owned access route is the only way in to the applicant's primary residence; or repair or replacement of a secondary route is necessary for practical use (e.g., it is impossible to access the residence without a bridge or road); or the safety of occupants would be adversely affected because state, local or tribal government emergency equipment could not reach the residence.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), FEMA’s federal partner in disaster recovery, also may be able to help. Private property owners, established homeowner associations and properties governed by covenant may apply for low-interest disaster loans directly through SBA. These funds may qualify to be used to repair or replace private roads and bridges. Privately owned access roads and/or bridges owned by homeowners associations may also apply directly to the SBA.

When multiple households share a privately owned access route, assistance is shared between applicants, requiring additional coordination and documentation between FEMA and the applicants.

In this instance, FEMA requires:

  • Written consent from all applicants who use the shared privately owned access route.
  • A declarative statement affirming any assistance FEMA provides will be used to make repairs to the access route and the applicants understand they are responsible for securing permits and complying with local codes and ordinances.
  • The applicants do not have an established homeowners association or covenant responsible for repair of the access route, or the established homeowners association or covenant is unable to receive assistance from the SBA or private insurance to repair the access route.

If multiple families share an access route, individuals who do not apply or do not meet all eligibility requirements will not receive assistance and will not be considered when determining the amount an eligible applicant will receive.

The eligible grant is based on specific disaster-related repair items and limited to the minimum repairs necessary to enable applicants to access their residence. Repairs must satisfy all environmental and local, state and federal requirements, including permits.

The Home Repair Assistance award amount is based on repair items (e.g., decking, guardrails and handrails) that are of average quality, size and capacity.

Repair awards will not include improvements to the access route’s pre-disaster condition unless improvements are required by current state, local and tribal government building codes or ordinances.

  • An applicant with access and functional needs who requires entry for a particular vehicle may be approved for additional funds to improve the access if required for safe passage.

FEMA is required to ensure that federal funding complies with applicable federal Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation (EHP) laws, regulations and executive orders prior to providing assistance.

  • FEMA will verify whether the state, local or tribal government has taken or plans to take any emergency actions to repair the route to provide access for emergency service providers or to remove immediate threats to public health and safety.
  • Eligible applicants are responsible for complying with any conditions developed as a result of the EHP compliance review process and for obtaining any applicable government permits prior to conducting work.

For the latest information on wildfire recovery, visit www.fema.gov/disaster/4558 and www.fema.gov/disaster/4569 and follow the FEMA Region 9 Twitter account at twitter.com/femaregion9.

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Last updated November 23, 2020