Category Archives: Fire Main

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.

FEMA deadline is March 16

Those affected are reminded that FEMA is a phone call, a mouse click, or FEMA app away. Disaster survivors can go online at DisasterAssistance.gov, use the FEMA app, or call 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585 for TTY users. 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 deadline to register for disaster assistance is March 16, 2018.

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

Local business resources offer recovery workshops

Representatives from the Small Business Development Center for Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties (SBDC), Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will be presenting free workshops on resources available for small businesses affected by the Thomas fire and mudslides. The workshops will present information to help businesses that have suffered physical damage and/or financial losses connect with free consulting, business courses, emergency loans and long-term low-interest loans.

“We want business owners who have been impacted by the fire, floods and mudslides to know there is help available,” said Clare Briglio, Economic Development Collaborative-Ventura County’s special services coordinator. “The SBDC and WEV are co-sponsoring these workshops to provide local businesses with accurate information and assistance to access the help they need to recover quickly.”

Workshops are available :

  • Thursdays, February 15 and 22
  • English workshop – 6:30 p.m.
  • Spanish workshop – 7:15 p.m.

WEV Office, 290 Maple Court, Suite 256 Ventura

For more information, call 965-6073 or email info@wevonline.org.

The SBDC is funded by the SBA and provides professional business assistance at no cost to businesses. Participating businesses are required to follow a well-defined scope of work and report their economic successes. These SBA milestones are defined as job creation, increase in sales, capital investment, jobs retained and businesses started.

EDC-VC is a private, nonprofit organization that serves as a business-to-government liaison to assist businesses in Ventura County by offering programs that enhance the economic vitality of the region. For more information about the Small Business Development Center, loan programs, manufacturing outreach and international trade program, or other services available to small businesses through EDC-VC, contact Bruce Stenslie at 384-1800 ext. 24 or bruce.stenslie@edc-vc.com. Or visit www.edc-vc.com.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) plays a significant role in helping disaster survivors recover

Californians in Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles and San Diego counties who were affected by the December wildfires and recent mudslides and flooding, may be referred to the SBA after applying for disaster assistance with FEMA. If you are contacted and asked to submit an application for a low-interest SBA disaster loan, don’t hesitate to apply.

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 may borrow up to $2 million for any combination of property damage or economic injury.

You don’t have to accept the loan, if you qualify. If you don’t qualify, you may also be referred back to FEMA for other grants, which covers items like disaster-related car repairs, clothing, essential household items and other expenses. Applicants can’t be considered for these grants unless the SBA loan application is completed and returned.

In planning your recovery, give yourself the widest possible set of options. Submitting the application makes it possible for you to be considered for additional grants, and if you qualify for a loan you will have that resource available if you choose to use it.

Applicants may apply online using SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. They 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.

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

Deadline for Thomas Fire victims to apply for Individual Assistance from FEMA is approaching

The deadline for residents affected by the Thomas Fire to apply for Individual Assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency is March 16, 2018.

Residents can apply online or at the Disaster Recovery Center FEMA is operating at the Ventura County Credit Union’s location in Ventura.

Ventura County Credit Union
6026 Telephone Rd, Ventura, CA 93003

  • Monday through Wednesday: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • Thursday and Friday: 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Saturday: 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Closed on Sunday

Representatives from FEMA, California Office of Emergency Services, the U.S. Small Business Administration and other agencies are staffing the center. Residents of any of the designated counties – Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura – can seek help at the Ventura DRC.

Before visiting a DRC, fire victims are encouraged to apply online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by phone at 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585. Applicants 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. seven days a week.

Applicants should have the following information at hand:

  • · Social Security number.
  • · Address of the damaged primary residence.
  • · Description of the damage.
  • · Information about insurance coverage.
  • · A current contact telephone number.
  • · An address where they can receive mail.
  • · Bank account and routing numbers for direct deposit of funds.

Residents of the designated counties can find the closest DRC by going online at fema.gov/drc or texting 43362 with the message DRC and their ZIP Code. Standard message and data rates apply.

Disaster victims may apply for food benefits until February 14

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) today announced that individuals and families impacted by the wildfires and/or mudslides in Santa Barbara or Ventura Counties may be eligible to receive one month of Disaster CalFresh food assistance.

A family of four with available monthly income and resources up to $2,755 per month may be eligible to receive up to $640 in food assistance through California’s Disaster CalFresh program. Households must apply for this assistance between Tuesday, February 6 and Friday February 9, 2018, and Monday, February 12 to Wednesday, February 14, 2018. In most cases, Disaster CalFresh food assistance benefits will be available within three days of the date of application.

“Disaster CalFresh food assistance is intended to help those negatively impacted by the wildfires and mudslides,” said CDSS Director Will Lightbourne. “We stand with these hard-working communities as they continue to recover. Giving families the ability to meet the basic need of food is a big step in that effort.”

The United States Department of Agriculture approved California’s request for Disaster CalFresh food assistance in response to the wildfires and mudslides in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. The program is known nationally as the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or D-SNAP.

Wildfire and/or mudslide victims may apply for CalFresh disaster food assistance in-person at local social service agency offices throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura. Households unable to apply in person may designate an authorized representative to apply on their behalf and should contact their local social services agency directly for more information on this option (telephone information below).

Disaster CalFresh benefits will be provided via an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, which is like a debit card that can be used to purchase food items at grocery stores and other authorized retailers.

Individuals and families who lived or worked in Santa Barbara or Ventura may be eligible for Disaster CalFresh food assistance if the household experienced at least one of the following as a direct result of the wildfires and/or mudslides:

Damage to or destruction of the home or self-employment business;

Loss or inaccessibility of income, including a reduction or termination of earned income or a significant delay in receiving income due to disaster related problems; or

Disaster-related expenses (e.g. home or business repairs, temporary shelter, evacuation, etc.) that are not expected to be reimbursed during the disaster benefit period, or

Food Loss due to the wildfire and/or mudslide

Households already participating in CalFresh are not eligible to receive Disaster CalFresh food assistance, but may be eligible to receive supplemental benefits based on their household size. Households already participating in CalFresh may contact their local social service agency to request supplemental benefits by phone or in person. Some households already participating in CalFresh may also automatically receive supplemental benefits based on the direct impact, such as mandatory evacuations, of the wildfires or mudslides in their community.

Individuals and families affected by the wildfires and/or mudslides who are seeking food assistance may apply for Disaster CalFresh until February 14, 2018 by visiting a social service agency in Santa Barbara or Ventura and can find additional application sites and more information online at http://www.cdss.ca.gov/Disaster-Help-Center.

In addition, individuals or families with new needs for assistance due to the wildfires and/or mudslides may always apply for regular CalFresh benefits and CalWORKs cash aid at their local social service agency or online at www.benefitscal.com.

Ventura Community Service Center
4651 Telephone Rd, Ventura

  • 8:00AM to 5:00PM Monday through Friday
  • Open until 7:00 PM on Wednesday 2-7-18
  • Open until 7:00 PM on Thursday 2-8-18

Free Erosion Control and Fire-Safe Landscaping Class at Ventura College Feb. 7

Ventura Residents Are Invited to the Erosion Control and Fire-Safe Landscaping Class, Wednesday, February 7, 2018, 7-9:00 pm at Ventura College’s Wright Event Center.

This FREE Class will help property owners make informed decisions about erosion and sediment control implementation as well as fire-safe landscape planning post-Thomas Fire. Learn about post-fire best management practices and important factors to consider when managing wildfire impacted landscapes.

Featured Speakers:

Rich Casale is a recently retired USDA NRCS employee who served as an NRCS natural resource conservationist for nearly 43 years in California. Rich is a Certified Professional Erosion and Sediment Control Specialist.

Sabrina L. Drill, Ph.D. is the natural resources advisor for University of California Cooperative Extension in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.

City’s ambitious rebuilding plan

by Burris DeBenning

Boldly proposed at the City Council meeting of January 22, the Community Development Department presented a plan to rebuild Ventura’s burned communities and get residents back into new homes as quickly as possible. “The consensus here is that we want a fast, inexpensive and efficient means for people to rebuild,” said Mayor Neal Andrews.

Community Development Director Jeffrey Lambert had his game on with a crisp explanation of the specific steps his staff intend to take to push plans through a faster approval process. Displaced homeowners can expect a 14-day plan check review, instead of the usual six to eight weeks wait, for rebuilt single-family homes. “Our staff has met with homeowners and we know the stresses they’re under, so we want to help them as quickly and painlessly as possible,” said Lambert.

City Hall Room 117, which currently has plan check and permit desks staffed during normal operations, will expand with the additional staff and consultants dedicated solely to displaced homeowners. The new Thomas Fire Rebuild Permit Office, according Chief Building Official Yolanda Bundy, will provide personalized attention and prompt customer service to bypass the standard procedures that can take months or even years.

Regenerating a sense of community was another theme addressed by staff. “Some homes lost were tracts from the 60s and 70s,” Lambert told Council, “and we want to help people get back what they had but also conform to the latest building codes, build homes that represent the character of Ventura and include more sustainable materials.” Still, staff urged flexibility with this. Homes with add-ons or features that may have been inconsistent with today’s zoning ordinances will be approved as well. Of course, up to a point. Basically, homeowners can request the original footprint, plus an additional 10%. Beyond that, residents would have to go back to the regular, lengthier review gauntlet, unless, as Planning Manager Dave Ward stated, council sought to increase this percentage through a code change.

That was a sticking point with several council members who sought an expedited process for all displaced homeowners, regardless of the size of the new addition. Councilmember Cheryl Heitmann emphatically wanted the process equalized, and asked staff, “how will people even know they are being expedited?” She also said she’s hearing that “people want to build bigger and better than what they had.” Mr. Lambert and staff emphasized the 14-day review and said they’ll prioritize all displaced homeowners but return to Council if lots of permit applications are for additions more than the 10%.

Deputy Mayor Matt LaVere asked: “What if there’s no more homeowner’s insurance left to cover the 10%, or other fees.” Mr. Lambert said that his staff could track these instances so that a solution can be found, and Interim City Manager Dan Paranick added that “the City’s General Fund may have to be tapped to cover fees and such not paid by insurance.” Staff returned to the subject of community, pointing out that neighbors must live with each other, and someone who wants to put a 15% addition on their property could infringe on the folks next door. Finally, yellow tagged homeowners with partial damage will not have their debris removed by CalRecycle, the State program sent to clean up the totally destroyed properties and must pay these expenses out of pocket. Stop by Room 117 in City Hall to have your questions answered.

Livingston patients continue to receive in-home care during the Thomas Fire disaster

by Lori Harasta

Despite blazes, blackouts, and evacuations due to the Thomas fire, Livingston’s nurses, social workers, therapists and caregivers continued to keep patients safe and as comfortable as possible as they performed their clinical and custodial duties. They helped some patients evacuate, packing up precious mementos and personal items, and even drove one client to a safe haven in Carpinteria, the long way around, since Highway 33 was closed.

Forty-three patients were relocated as a result of the fire. For those moved out of the county, Livingston partnered with other agencies to care for them. Locally, be it in a church, a high school gymnasium, or other evacuation center, clinicians continued to deliver support and services. Medications for pain, nausea, and shortness of breath were administered without interruption. For those on oxygen, which is primarily reliant on electricity, Livingston was able to solicit help from a medical equipment company to provide portable oxygen tanks during power outages.

One client shared, “I’m so impressed with (Livingston CareGiver’s CNA) Manuela. During all the chaos caused by the fire, she has been a constant during an inconsistent time. With road closures and other obstacles, she has arrived on time and without distraction. We are so grateful to her and your organization.  I’ve been able to get much needed rest while Manuela has been here.”

Jeannette Cunningham, RN, BSN, PHN, Livingston’s Safety Officer, observed that it was teamwork that made things go so smoothly. “It was not at all chaotic. Everyone kept calm and got the job done. At the command post, all you had to do was state a patient’s need and it was taken care of.”

According to Teresa Pavan, BSHS, RN, Vice-President/CEO of Livingston, “It really ran like a well-oiled machine. We continued to see patients no matter where they were moved. It was all about getting to the right place at the right time to deliver the right care.”

Being a safety net for the community doesn’t stop with patients and clients. Several Livingston staffers, including Pavan, distributed blankets and N95 masks to the homeless that camp in the City of Ventura.

The Thomas fire is now the largest fire in California history. Even in an immense disaster such as this, Ventura County residents can be assured Livingston will be there in their home or shelter to help them.

For information on grief support services for fire victims, call 642-0239 ext. 705.