Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Assistance
If you suffered personal or business losses in the devastating wildfires that broke out in October and you’re waiting for your insurance settlement before you register with FEMA, don’t wait any longer. Disaster assistance may be able to fill insurance gaps or provide help if you’ve been waiting more than 30 days on a homeowner’s claim. Another reason not to delay: the deadline for registering with FEMA is Dec. 11, 2017.
Registering with FEMA is required for federal aid, even if you have registered with another disaster-relief organization, such as the American Red Cross. By law, FEMA cannot duplicate insurance or other benefits. However, FEMA may be able to help with uninsured or underinsured losses if the insurance settlement is delayed. FEMA may also be able to help:
- If you have received the settlement from the insurance company but you still have unmet needs.
- If you have exhausted the settlement for Additional Living Expenses (ALE for loss of use) and you need disaster-related temporary housing.
- If your settlement does not cover disaster-related needs such as medical, dental and funeral costs, emergency home repairs and other disaster-related expenses.
You should also register with FEMA if your wells or septic systems were damaged in the fires. Homeowners may be eligible for grant funding to pump septic tanks, perform required repairs or replace the system as needed. Damaged private wells that are the sole source of water for the home and need to be repaired or decontaminated are also potentially eligible.
Small Business Administration (SBA) Loan
Survivors who applied for assistance from FEMA may also pursue a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Loan. SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-dam
aged personal property. Renters, as well as homeowners, may be eligible to borrow up to $40,000 to repair or replace clothing, furniture, appliances and damaged vehicles. Uninsured and under-insured residents may also be eligible for a SBA low-interest disaster loan for the repair or replacement of a home up to $200,000. The loan balance may be reduced by their insurance settlement. You can apply, or check the status of your loan at SBA Disaster Loan Assistance.
To qualify for SBA you must have already applied to FEMA.
Employment Development Department
The California Employment Development Department (EDD) provides a variety of services to individuals and businesses impacted by disasters in California. These range from assistance for those who may have lost a job due to the disaster, to employers who are forced to shut down operations. Visit the EDD Disaster Related Services page for more information.
- Contact your insurance agent, broker or insurance company as soon as you can to report how, when and where the damage occurred. Provide a general description of the damage.
- Prepare a list of damaged or lost items and provide receipts if possible. Consider photographing or videotaping the damage where it occurred for further documentation to support your claim. The California Department of Insurance has a helpful guide to get you started: Home Inventory Guide
- If possible, keep damaged items or portions of those items until the claims adjuster has visited your home. Do not throw away anything you plan to claim without discussing it with your adjuster first.
- Keep receipts for all additional expenses that you may incur such as lodging, repairs or other supplies.
- Make copies of all documents and pictures given to your claims adjuster or insurance company. Besides insurance, there are many questions related to taxes, expenses and determining just how you will recover from a personal financial point of view.
- Other helpful documents provided by the California Department of Insurance include the Residential Property Claims Guide and Don't Get Burned After a Disaster. For further insurance related questions, the Department of Insurance can be reached at 1-800-927-4357 (HELP)
NCO Fire Relief Fund
The North Coast Opportunities (NCO) Wildfire Relief Fund seeks to assist those facing hardship by providing direct monetary aid to people who have suffered loss as a result of the fires.
Relief will be disbursed in the form of cash grants. Grants will be awarded by committee determination and are intended to meet immediate needs for clothing, shelter, transportation, food, and/or home cleanup and repair. Grants will be given based on available funds. Those determined to have the greatest need will be given a higher priority in the process.
Any resident of Lake or Mendocino Counties is eligible to apply who, as a result of the 2017 wildfires, was:
- Displaced from his/her home
- Has suffered a loss to his/her home
- Has suffered a financial hardship because of the fire (loss of income/employment, vehicle, etc.)
Applications are available in English and Spanish at www.ncoinc.org, or at any NCO office.
For questions, please call the NCO Fire Information Line: (707) 467-3236 OR (707) 467-3200 ext. 236.