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Federal Assistance for California Wildfires Tops $103M

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Since historic wildfires swept across the State of California in 2020, more than $103 million in federal disaster assistance has been disbursed to help homeowners, renters and businesses recover, with more than 95 percent of those who lost their homes placed in temporary housing.

Here is a snapshot of the Individual Assistance disaster-recovery effort as of Feb. 16, 2021:

  • More than 41,600 Californians have contacted FEMA for information or registered for assistance with FEMA and more than $26.8 million in aid has been approved for them.
  • Housing Assistance approved: more than $20.9 million
  • Other Needs Assistance approved: more than $5.9 million
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved nearly $76.2 million in low-interest disaster loans to businesses, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters. To date, 657 loans have been approved: 592 home loans and 65 business loans.
  • FEMA operated 27 Mobile Recovery Intake Centers in the affected areas. During their operation, more than 4,665 survivors visited the centers to register for disaster assistance and receive information and advice for their recovery.

Residents in Butte and Siskiyou counties eligible for FEMA’s Direct Housing Program who opted for temporary housing, such as travel trailers and manufactured housing units, have been placed in existing mobile home parks. More than 75 percent of disaster survivors who chose the direct lease option have been matched with a place to live and are moving into apartments.

A Housing Task Force, created to implement FEMA’s Direct Housing Program, focused on locating temporary housing solutions for eligible survivors in Butte and Siskiyou counties. The task force worked with vendors to secure apartment units and matched survivors to units and locations that meet their family’s needs. 

Survivors in Siskiyou County have been placed in travel trailers in commercial parks. In Butte County, survivors have been placed in temporary housing in commercial parks and apartments. This was the most efficient and quickest way to get survivors into temporary housing solutions, keeping them as close to home as possible. 

Wildfire survivors receiving rental assistance for temporary housing through FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program must let FEMA know if they have a continuing need. Extensions on rental assistance may be granted for three-month periods, up to a maximum of 18 months from the date of the presidential declarations: Aug. 22, 2020, for Disaster 4558 and Oct. 16, 2020, for Disaster 4569.

Rental assistance is for paying rent, including a security deposit, at a place other than your damaged home. To continue to receive it, you must prove an ongoing need, which may be that suitable housing is not available, or that your permanent housing plan has not been completed through no fault of your own.

Two federal disasters were declared for California wildfires in 2020. The first was DR-4558-CA for August/September wildfires in the counties of Butte, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Trinity, Tulare and Yolo. The second was DR-4569-CA for later fires in the counties of Fresno, Los Angeles, Madera, Mendocino, Napa, San Bernardino, San Diego, Shasta, Siskiyou and Sonoma.

There is still time for small businesses to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). For Disaster 4558 (the 1st Disaster) the deadline to apply for an EIDL in these counties is May 24, 2021.  For Disaster 4569 (the 2nd Disaster) the deadline to apply for an EIDL in these counties is July 16, 2021.

Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at disasterloanassistance.sba.gov. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard‑of‑hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX  76155.

Survivors who registered for assistance with FEMA should continue to track their cases and notify the agency of changes to their mailing or email addresses or phone numbers, and to report insurance settlements or additional damage discovered since their home inspection.

Here’s how to reach FEMA:

  • Online at DisasterAssistance.gov.
  • Download the FEMA app to a smartphone or tablet.
  • Call 800-621-3362 (TTY: 800-462-7585) between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. PST, seven days a week. Those who use a relay service such as a videophone, Innocaption or CapTel, should provide FEMA with the specific number assigned to that service when they register. Multilingual operators are available.

FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) grant program provides federal assistance to state and local governments and certain types of private nonprofit organizations following a presidential disaster declaration. As of Feb. 5, there have been 160 eligible Requests for Public Assistance (RPAs).

  • Through the program, FEMA provides supplemental federal disaster grant assistance for debris removal, life-saving emergency protective measures and the repair, replacement or restoration of disaster-damaged publicly owned facilities and the facilities of certain private nonprofit organizations.
  • The PA program benefits everyone – neighborhoods, towns, cities, counties, states and their residents. PA funds are used for projects to renovate classrooms, refurbish hospitals, restore parks and repair public transportation systems so students can go to safe schools, doctors and nurses can provide medical care, and families can enjoy the outdoors in public parks.
  • The federal share of Public Assistance is at least 75 percent of the eligible cost. 

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

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All FEMA disaster assistance will be provided without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex (including sexual harassment), religion, national origin, age, disability, limited English proficiency, economic status, or retaliation. If you believe your civil rights are being violated, call 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585(TTY/TDD).

FEMA’s mission: Helping people before, during, and after disasters.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property.

For more information, applicants may contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955. TTY users may also call 800-877-8339. Applicants may also email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov or visit SBA at SBA.gov/disaster.

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