FEMA to provide grant assistance and loans to California residents affected by wildfires

In News, State News
(Bailey Carpenter / Daily Titan)

Following Canyon Fire 2 in early October, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved disaster relief in the form of federal grant assistance and low-interest disaster loans.

California residents affected by the fires have until Dec. 11 to register with FEMA for disaster relief either online or by calling the FEMA helpline.

As of Nov. 9, FEMA has approved $10.3 million in Individuals and Households Program grants, with $6.6 million going to housing assistance and $3.7 million going to other needs assistance. There are 3,937 households that have been found eligible for individual assistance.

With 73 percent of the requested site inspections used to assess damages completed, FEMA is also providing temporary housing in hotels or motels through early December for 469 people whose homes were affected.

FEMA External Affairs Officer Victor Inge said that it has had 3,962 total approved registrations for grant assistance as of Nov. 13.

He said there will be assistance for people in need of housing for up to 18 months.

“What we’re finding is people are determining their housing solutions on their own, which is good,” Inge said. “We’re encouraging everyone who lived in the designated counties who had their home impacted by the fire to register for federal disaster assistance.”

The fire tore through 9,000 acres in Orange County and prompted several evacuations. Eligible counties for FEMA assistance include Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Sonoma and Yuba.

Business owners, nonprofit organizers, homeowners and renters are able to apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), with $27 million in loans already approved as of Nov. 9.

While homeowners may not be interested in taking out a loan, FEMA is working with the SBA to bring disaster survivors into the process of applying for assistance and taking care of any immediate or long-term housing needs.

“If you had a house and a family and you’ve lost everything, well a FEMA grant isn’t going to do it for you,” Inge said. “It’s going to take a combination of your insurance, a FEMA grant and possibly a low-interest disaster loan because we’re talking about people having to rebuild.”

Inge emphasized the importance of registering for assistance to determine the needs of the individual or family and that the federal disaster assistance is primarily concerned with immediate housing needs.

“People have a tendency to wait and get closer to that deadline and that’s not what we want at all,” Inge said. “We want them to go ahead and register so we can begin to assess what their needs are.”

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