Category Archives: Fire Main

Southern Californians Should Stay in Touch With FEMA

Southern California homeowners and renters who have registered for disaster assistance with FEMA following the December wildfires and January mudslides and flooding, are encouraged to stay in touch as their applications are processed.

Financial help for home repair, temporary rental assistance, personal property loss and other losses or damage not covered by insurance may be available to applicants in Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

Applicants can track their application and should notify FEMA of changes to their mailing address, phone number, email address or if they receive an insurance settlement. Any necessary documents can also be uploaded directly by going online to DisasterAssistance.gov. Applicants can also call the helpline at 800-621-3362; TTY 800-462-7585. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service may call 800-621-3362. The toll-free numbers are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time seven days a week.

As of close of business March 27, 691 households have received more than $4.2 million in assistance from FEMA. The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved 381 loans for businesses, homeowners and renters for more than $40.4 million.

Significant efforts have been made with the removal of debris from basins and creeks in Santa Barbara County. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers removed 326,908 cubic yards of debris from 11 basins that provide protection to downstream neighborhoods and properties in Santa Barbara County. USACE is also assisting Santa Barbara County clear debris from nine creeks. Work is complete in eight of nine creeks, for a total of 47,306 cubic yards removed.

CalRecyle has been working in Ventura County to remove debris from private property and conduct soil sampling. So far CalRecyle is 71 percent complete with private property debris removal in Ventura County and expect to be complete by mid-April.

Debris removal is critical to reopening roadways and facilitating further recovery, but is also essential to helping communities prepare for increased flood risks that follow major fires for several years. All residents of Southern California who live near burned areas should be carefully monitor the weather and follow local emergency recommendations. Residents can increase their financial protection by buying insurance now. Click here for information on flood risks after fire, go to or visit California Department of Water Resources for more information.

For more additional updates on California recovery, visit the disaster web page at www.fema.gov/disaster/4353, Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/femaregion9 and WildfireRecovery.org.

Applications for assistance still available

The application deadline for $1.5 million in assistance from the United Way Thomas Fire and Flood Fund for those impacted by the recent disasters has been extended to April 30.

The application for individual hardship assistance is available now at vcunitedway.org in English and Spanish. The United Way Thomas Fire and Flood Fund will support residents in expenses related to housing, livelihood/income and habitability of their homes.

Applicants can submit a completed form to one of the partnering agencies listed at vcunitedway.org to speak with a case manager. Victims should gather any documentation to substantiate needs, such as rental agreements, campground rental fees, costs replace trade tools (could be prices from online or physical stores) or insurance invoices.

Eligible applicants are Ventura County residents, and household income limits are determined by family size of 120% AMI or less.

The United Way Thomas Fire and Flood Fund has grown to more than $4 million. The next phase in disbursements will center on long-term recovery. To contribute, visit unitedwaythomasfirefund.org.

Since 1945, United Way of Ventura County has advanced the common good by creating opportunities for a better life for all. Our focus is on education, income and health, because these are the building blocks for a good quality of life. We support local services and programs that are more than just ‘stop gap’ measures, but rather solutions that help create lasting change. We invite everyone to be part of the change by giving, advocating and volunteering. When we work together in common purpose, we LIVE UNITED. For more information about United Way of Ventura County, visit www.vcunitedway.org.

Ventura Family YMCA gives to employees who lost homes

Dana is one of the staff who received $1,000.00.

At the YMCA Campaign Report Night on Feb. 23, four employees who lost their home from the Thomas Fire received $1000 from the Ventura Family YMCA. The $4000 was donated from San Francisco YMCA’s emergency relief fund.

Every year, the San Francisco Y donates to a fund to support YMCAs that have experienced disasters or have other dire needs. “When the Director of Human Resources heard about the fires in the Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties, he gathered the team together and they determined, right away, that they wanted to support the work that Ventura YMCA was doing to help those impacted by the fire,” said Margo Byrne, Chief Operations Officer of the Channel Islands YMCA.

The Ventura Y has elected to keep the names of the four employees anonymous. At the report night, one of the employees shared her story about how the YMCA helped her during the Thomas Fire. The Y staff member explained that they didn’t take anything when they initially evacuated with her four children. “We were up to the left of Ventura High School so we weren’t that concerned.”

When her neighbors started evacuating, she and her family left to her father’s house. When they arrived, she asked her father to take her back to the house to pick up a few items. They returned to find her whole street on fire, and they left with nothing.

The morning after her house had burned down, Amy Bailey Jurewicz, Executive Director for the Ventura Family YMCA, was the first to check on her. The employee stated, “I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt if the Y had not offered the childcare that they did, I would not have made it through this.”

At the end of the night, Amber Stevens, Associate Executive Director at the Ventura Family YMCA, stated, “We have amazing staff here. It’s nice to be able to say we can help when we hear our staff is in trouble.” The Y also paid all of their employees for hours while the facility was closed during the fires.

Information about the Ventura Family YMCA, visit http://www.ciymca.org/Ventura or call 642.2131.

Fire survivor’s Benefit Festival checks

Thank you for your incredible patience as we work on the distribution of the one-time Thomas Fire Benefit Festival checks. Each person/household will receive $750! We can confirm that the checks will be ready Friday, March 16.

There are three distribution centers:

Ventura Residents: Please come to the Downtown Ventura Partners offices at 420 East Santa Clara St. Come only on Friday, March 16 between 1pm-6pm. And on Wed., March 21 through Friday, March 23 from 1pm-6pm. If you cannot make these times, email kevin@downtownventura.org to discuss other arrangements.

Ojai Area Residents: Please go to Help of Ojai’s Community Assistance Program at 108 Fox Street, Oja between 9am-3pm on Friday, March 16. And again 9am-3pm on Monday, March 19 through Wednesday, March 21. Help of Ojai is graciously volunteering to be a pick-up location. Please do not call their office or go to their main offices. If you cannot make these times, please email kevin@downtownventura.org to discuss other arrangements.

Santa Paula/Fillmore Residents: We are finalizing a pick-up location. We have your email addresses and we will be communicating directly with you to provide the location and times.

To collect your check, you must present a form of ID and FEMA paperwork, or (if you don’t have FEMA papers) a utility bill or documents that describe your loss and a valid ID linking yourself to the affected property. Please do not email these documents. Just bring them when you pick up your check.

We appreciate your patience throughout this process! We truly hope this money will help soften the incredible blow you have endured. These funds are to address any unmet needs beyond any insurance payouts or disaster assistance you have received. #VenturaCountyStrong!

The Thomas Fire Benefit Team

A few days left to register for disaster assistance

Southern California residents recovering from the December wildfires and January mudslides and flooding have until March 16 to register for federal disaster assistance .

Individuals and families who were living in Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties and suffered damage or losses from the fires and mudslides are encouraged to register for assistance.

After applying for disaster assistance with FEMA, they may also be referred to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Survivors are encouraged to submit their application for a low-interest disaster loan, if contacted by the SBA to do so.

Homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 from SBA to repair or replace their primary residence. Homeowners and renters may borrow up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property. Businesses and private non-profit organizations may borrow up to $2 million for any combination of property damage or economic injury.

So far, 629 individuals and households have been deemed eligible for FEMA individual assistance and more than $3.7 million has been approved in grants. The SBA has approved 287 disaster loans for businesses, homeowners and renters for more than $30 million.

Survivors are encouraged to register even if they have insurance. By law, FEMA cannot duplicate insurance or other benefits but may be able to help with uninsured or underinsured losses.

Survivors can apply for disaster assistance by going online at DisasterAssistance.gov, by using the FEMA app on a smart phone or by calling 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585. Applicants who use 711 or Video Relay Service can call 800-621-3362. The toll-free numbers are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., local time, seven days a week.

The Salvation Army focuses on long term recovery

Volunteers that came from our community to help receive and sort donations for the fire victims.(That’s Silvia all the way on the right end)

Although fully contained the Thomas Fire will have an effect on Ventura County for years to come. In addition to burning more than 300,000 acres, the blaze destroyed over 1,000 structures, including many homes. The Salvation Army has been serving the greatest needs of Ventura County residents affected by the fire since the initial evacuation, and the long term recovery continues today with assessments and financial assistance.

After the emergency shelters scaled down, The Salvation Army began initial recovery support operations in December through a Local Assistance Center. The Salvation Army distributed financial assistance with a total value of $128,490 to 513 households. Since January 8, The Salvation Army has shifted recovery efforts with an eye toward long-term support, including those in Santa Barbara County. As of February 13, eighty-four households have been given financial assistance valued at $68,342. These funds are the result of an assessment provided by The Salvation Army Ventura Corps and Santa Barbara Corps stationed at the Los Angeles County Disaster Recovery Center, set up at the Lake View Terrace Recreation Center.

In addition to this, The Salvation Army has supported clean-up service projects in Montecito, with more than 100 lunches served on February 10 and 11.

Salvation Army Lieutenant Silvia Simoes stated “It was a blessing to see the support from our community during such a difficult time. I had the opportunity to share love and care with so many people in so many ways and we continue to be able to provide help to individuals each day.”
The Salvation Army is asking the public for financial donations, which can be used to meet immediate challenges and specific needs. To donate, go to socal.salvationarmy.org or call 1-800-SAL-ARMY and donate to fire relief today.

 

United Way Thomas Fire and Flood Fund grows to more than $3.7 million

Eric Harrison, President & CEO of United Way of Ventura County was a recent guest on the radio show Face of Ventura on FM station KPPQLP hosted by Publisher Brown.

Disaster victims can apply for the next phase of relief funding through the United Way Thomas Fire and Flood Fund, which has grown to more than $3.7 million. Through April 30, United Way of Ventura County (UWVC) will be releasing as much as $1.5 million from the fund for individual hardship assistance.

Until March 15, application forms for victims will be available at vcunitedway.org or 211ventura.org. Applicants can also call 2-1-1 or text “ThomasFire” to 898-211 to find out more. Local partnering agencies will assess each applicant’s needs and eligibility.

“The outpouring of support has been incredible, and we’re so proud to be able to get these funds out to help residents who have lost so much,” said Eric Harrison, President & CEO of United Way of Ventura County. “We have a long way to go to rebuild our community, but nobody is in it alone. Whether you lost a home, income, or have been impacted in another way, I encourage you to give 2-1-1 a call and learn more about the resources that are being extended.”

Eligible applicants for individual hardship assistance must be Ventura County residents.. Eligibility will be based on household income limits, determined by family size of 120% AMI or less. Funds will support residents in expenses related to housing, livelihood/income and habitability of their homes.

The United Way Thomas Fire and Flood Fund recently grew thanks to a $100,000 gift from AT&T and $150,000 from Bank of America. To provide immediate assistance in December from the fund, $500 prepaid credit cards went out to up to 1,000 residents whose homes were destroyed by the Thomas Fire.

United Way of Ventura County and United Way of Santa Barbara County formed a strategic partnership vital in helping the community recover from the Thomas Fire. The fund was later expanded to also assist flood victims and $500,000 was given for assistance in Santa Barbara County.

Further information and to donate:

Online at www.unitedwaythomasfirefund.org

By texting UWVC to 41444

By phone or mail: call 485-6288 or checks may be sent to the United Way office at 702 County Square Drive, Suite 100, Ventura, CA 93003. Please write “Thomas Fire Fund” in the memo.

Property tax relief is on the way for Thomas Fire victims

Ventura County Assessor Dan Goodwin, Auditor Controller Jeff Burgh, and Treasurer-Tax Collector Steven Hintz have announced that reduced property tax bills or refunds will begin being mailed to fire victims. Staff from all three departments have been attending post-fire community meetings to answer questions, and appraisers have already inspected more than 3,000 properties.

The reduced bills or refunds of taxes previously paid are for Ventura County taxpayers whose Calamity Claims for property tax relief for property losses resulting from the Thomas Fire have been approved. The first batch of revised bills is scheduled to be mailed on this week. The bills will be mailed to the address submitted on the Calamity Claim form. Refunds will be made to the person who actually made the original payment.

“This is another example of how County agencies are working collaboratively to assist city and county residents who were affected by the Thomas Fire,” said County Executive Officer Mike Powers. “Dan, Jeff and Steven promised taxpayers relief from this disaster on December 7, just three days after the fire started. And now, that relief is already arriving. This is an extraordinary effort and a thoughtful demonstration of how local government can respond to the urgent needs of its constituents.”

For more information, contact:

Steven Hintz, Treasurer-Tax Collector, 654-3744
http://www.ventura.org/ttc

Dan Goodwin, Assessor, 654-2181
htpp://assessor.countyofventura.org

Jeff Burgh, Auditor-Controller, 654-3152
http://www.ventura.org/auditor-controller

Habitat for Humanity ReStore offers $200 vouchers

Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore in Oxnard is offering vouchers valued at $200 to households that lost their home in recent wildfires. The ReStore is a discount home improvement store selling furniture, building supplies and appliances with all proceeds supporting Habitat’s mission to build homes, communities and hope.

To claim your voucher, please visit the Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County office at 1850 Eastman Ave., Oxnard. Families must be registered at http://venturacountyrecovers.org/ before they receive their voucher.

This support is made possible from a $5,000 grant from the Ventura County Community Foundation thanks to the generosity of local philanthropists.

Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County is a locally-run and locally-funded affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. Over the past 33 years, 65 new home builds have provided homeownership opportunities for families in need and hundreds of homes have been repaired, providing a safe, decent living environment for low income homeowners. The Preserve a Home program partners with low-income homeowners to improve their living conditions through home repairs. At Habitat for Humanity, we believe that everyone, everywhere deserves a decent place to live. For Habitat’s new home program, low income families are selected based on their need for housing, ability to repay an affordable mortgage, and willingness to partner with Habitat for Humanity. We offer a “hand up,” empowering families who are willing to work hard to achieve their dream of homeownership. Each Habitat for Humanity homeowner invests hundreds of hours to help build their home, and then purchases it with an affordable mortgage. Habitat currently has enough donated properties to build 30 decent homes for families in Ventura County. For more information about Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County, visit http://www.habitatventura.org or call 485-6065, x 101.

A roadmap to recovery

A local group of building professionals; architects, engineers and contractors have come together and are working closely with the city in developing a roadmap to recovery. They have now organized that information and are sharing it with the affected homeowners through neighborhood workshops. These workshops have a representative from the city and many experienced professionals available to answer questions. The meeting focuses on the rebuilding process and is structured as an interactive forum so as they share information, they also can hear your concerns and experiences helping them become a better resource. They are all volunteers dedicated to providing answers to those in need and demystifying the process of rebuilding.

The information will be beneficial you rebuild or not. You can find upcoming workshops and additional information about the rebuilding effort on ThomasFireHelp.org/rebuild.