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Congressman Mike Thompson

Representing the 5th District of CALIFORNIA

Lake County News: Thompson announces FEMA Public assistance for Valley Fire recovery

Oct 11, 2015
News Articles
Lake County News Staff

LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-5) announced Federal Emergency Management Agency Public Assistance funds will be available to eligible applicants such as state and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations in Lake County. 

This is funding for local communities to use to repair critical public infrastructure such as roads, bridges, buildings, water infrastructure and sewage collection facilities. 

The federal government covers 75 percent of the costs, and the state and locals governments split the remaining 25 percent.  

“The federal response to the Valley Fire has been nothing short of spectacular,” said Thompson. “Working with FEMA and other federal agencies we have been able to rapidly secure funds to help suppress the fire, repair our towns, reopen businesses and rebuild people’s homes. We face a long and hard road back, but this assistance will help make sure we fully recover.” 

The Valley fire is the third most damaging fire in California's history, according to Cal Fire.

California Office of Emergency Services Director Mark Ghilarducci had written to FEMA earlier this month to ask for the Public Assistance to be made available, as Lake County News has reported.

In particular, Ghilarducci said the state needs millions of dollars in assistance in order to carry out the massive debris removal program in Lake County – where more than 1,950 structures burned, including more than 1,300 homes – and in Calaveras County, where the Butte fire burned more than 400 hundred homes.

Late last month, as a result of President Barack Obama's presidential major disaster declaration, FEMA opened up its Individual Assistance program to help individuals rebuild, repair and replace housing and other personal property not covered by insurance.

Thompson wrote to the White House, urging President Obama to approve the Individual Assistance. Thompson also had conversations with the White House and Regional Administrator for FEMA Region IX Robert J. Fenton, Jr. about the need to quickly expedite approval of the funding.

Individuals can register with FEMA the following ways:

– Apply online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov .
– Apply via smartphone at https://m.fema.gov .
– Constituents may call the registration phone number at 1-800-621-3362; those who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY, should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362.

Additionally, Thompson announced that low-interest Small Business Administration (SBA) loans are now available to help businesses and residents impacted by the Valley Fire.

Businesses and nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. 

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

Hazard Mitigation funds have also made available. These funds provide assistance to the state for actions taken to prevent or reduce long term risk to life and property from natural hazards.

FEMA previously approved the state of California’s request for a Fire Management Assistance Grant declaration for the Valley Fire. 

The Fire Management Assistance Grant Program allows for the “mitigation, management, and control” of fires burning on publicly or privately owned forest or grasslands which threaten such destruction as would constitute a major disaster.

The FEMA grant will cover 75 percent of the costs for various fire suppression, safety and recovery needs.