Category Archives: Fire Main

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 They may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or email 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, Twitter at and

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 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 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

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

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.

A quick look at post-disaster relief

by Mira Reverente

Ventura, Santa Barbara and other neighboring areas took a beating with the wildfires, mudflows, flooding and debris flows. With this recent spate of natural disasters, one wonders where, when and what type of assistance programs may be available to those who suffered damages or losses.

Federal assistance
After an amendment to the presidential disaster declaration of January 2nd, federal assistance is now available to eligible individuals and business owners in Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles and San Diego counties.

To register for federal assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), one should have the following information available:

Social security number
Address of the primary damaged residence
Description of the damage
Information about insurance coverage
A contact telephone number
An address to receive mail
Bank account and routing numbers for direct deposit of funds

Disaster assistance for homeowners and renters may include grants to cover:

Rental assistance
Essential home repairs
Uninsured and underinsured personal property losses
Other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance

Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are also available for businesses of all sizes (including landlords), private non-profit organizations, homeowners and renters.

FEMA grants do not have to be repaid. They are non-taxable and do not affect eligibility for Social Security, Medicaid or other federal benefits.

One-stop shops
In addition, a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) has opened in Ventura County. A one-stop shop for disaster assistance jointly operated by FEMA and the Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), the DRC is open almost daily except Sundays.

Check for current hours and to apply online before proceeding to the DRC, located at the Ventura County Credit Union on 6026 Telephone Road, Ventura

In Santa Barbara, a local assistance center (LAC) is also now open at Calvary Chapel, 1 North Calle Cesar Chavez. Staffed by FEMA, SBA and other federal, state and local agencies, the LAC is ope daily except Sundays as well.

Online registration with FEMA is encouraged for both the DRC and LAC, but it’s not mandatory.

Preparation is key
This month, a tsunami watch ensued after an intense earthquake in the Gulf of Alaska. One of the most powerful and destructive natural forces, tsunamis can cause dangerous coastal flooding and powerful currents that can last several hours or days.

To prepare for future natural disasters like tsunamis, FEMA highlights these safety tips especially for those who live near coastal communities like Ventura:

Create and practice an evacuation plan with your family. Have an escape route at night and during inclement weather.
Create a family communications plan to reconnect in case you get separated. Establish a meeting place that’s familiar and easy to find.
Build an emergency kit that will last at least 72 hours.

For more information on California recovery, visit, and Or download the FEMA app on your smartphone.

Additional resources available for Thomas Fire and flood victims

The Economic Development Collaborative–Ventura County’s special services coordinator, Clare Briglio, has announced additional resources now available for businesses recovering from the impact of the Thomas Fire and subsequent floods and mudslides.

“New federal declarations have secured additional resources for those who have suffered personal and/or business injury as a result of the Thomas Fire and subsequent mudslides and floods,” explained Briglio. For direct in-person assistance in filing with FEMA or the SBA, please visit a Disaster Recovery Center in your area. In addition, EDC-VC has compiled an online list of resources at”

To access available federal fire and flood relief resources, people should follow this three-step process:

Step 1: Registration with FEMA- Clients who have been impacted by the Thomas Fire and subsequent flood and are interested in government assistance should apply online at or by phone at 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free numbers are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

Note: The filing deadline to return FEMA applications for property damage is March 16, 2018. The deadline to return economic injury applications is Oct. 15, 2018.

Step 2: Registration with the SBA for low-interest loans- Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are available for businesses of all sizes (including landlords), private non-profit organizations, homeowners and renters. Disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries. This includes Economic Injury Disaster loans for businesses that may or may not have sustained any damage, but have experienced a downturn in business because of the disaster. The SBA customer service center is also available to answer questions at 1-800-659-2955. Applicants may also come in to a Local Recovery Center (LRC) for person-to-person assistance in completing their applications. For further information, visit SBA’s website at

Step 3: Registration with EDD for unemployment benefits-  Federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) benefits are now available for workers, business owners and self-employed individuals who lost their jobs or had their work hours substantially reduced as a result of the wildfires and associated flooding, mudslides and debris flows in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Those affected are encourages to apply online at, by calling 1-800-300-5616 (English) 1-800-326-8937 (Spanish) or by visiting a Local Recovery Center.

Local Recovery Centers (LRC) - Two Disaster Recovery Centers are now open locally for personal and business assistance. Representatives from FEMA, SBA, OES and other agencies will be present to provide information and resources for economic and personal injury due to the Thomas Fire and subsequent floods. Locations are as follows:

Santa Barbara  Calvary Chapel

1 N Calle Cesar Chavez #21

Monday-Friday 11-6:30

Saturday 10-2 pm


Ventura County Credit Union

6026 Telephone Rd

Monday-Wednesday 9-4pm

Thursday/Friday 9-5pm

Saturday 9-1 pm

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 Or visit

Amtrak Pacific Surfliner temporarily increases service to Santa Barbara County

The Amtrak® Pacific Surfliner® will temporarily increase train service to Santa Barbara County beginning Saturday, January 20, 2018, by adding one additional roundtrip between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara to help accommodate travel demand during the continued closure of Highway 101.

Since train tracks reopened on Thursday, January 11, 2018, following the devastating mudslides near Montecito, the Pacific Surfliner has served as the only viable ground transportation option for thousands of people between Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. In response to the unprecedented demand for train travel in the area, 15 additional railcars were secured from throughout the state to add more than 2,000 seats to the 10 daily Pacific Surfliner trains serving Santa Barbara County.

Even with the additional railcars, which have been operating since Sunday, January 14, Pacific Surfliner trains remain extremely busy, with demand exceeding available seating capacity on many trains. The added roundtrip will supplement the existing Pacific Surfliner service by adding nearly 1,000 more seats and providing an additional travel option into Santa Barbara County until the reopening of Highway 101.

To book travel and receive service updates, visit and follow @PacSurfliners on Twitter. You can also call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245) or use the Amtrak app.

A community coming together with Thomas Fire fundraisers

Even vehicles will need to be replaced.

The Thomas Fire Fund is a coalition of the United Way, the Red Cross and the Sheriff’s Department. 100% of the funds go directly to those affected by the Thomas Fire. For more information visit

January is National Mentoring Month, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ventura County (BBSVC) is celebrating with some very special events and activities, with a message of volunteerism and thanking First Responders in Ventura County.

All month long, Bigs and Littles will be creating handmade thank-you cards for Ventura County’s First Responders. Bigs and Littles will have the opportunity to present these cards to our local heroes at a special First Responders Lunch on Sunday, January 21st, at the Vagabond Coffee Shop on Thompson. And they will pull free raffle prizes for those First Responders in attendance, which include gifts like tickets to Disneyland!

Thomas Fire Benefit Concert at Discovery Ventura, Friday January 19.

The Concert features The Delgado Brothers, Teresa James and The Rhythm Tramps, The Guy Martin Band and Ray Jaurique and The Uptown Brothers, hosted by Lillian Schwartz, and Ventura’s own, Ashford Gordon and one of Southern California’s favorite comediennes, Denise Carter.

100 % of the net box office funds raised will go to Ventura County FOOD Share food bank as well as the United Way Thomas Fire Fund and the Red Cross Thomas Fire Fund who have partnered with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services. Doors will open at 6 PM with Ray Jaurique and The Uptown Brothers scheduled to open at 7 PM.

A free diamond necklace to anyone who lost their home due to the Thomas Fire. To claim they only need to show their ID at Fox Fine Jewelry. There are three necklaces to select from. All necklaces were designed by Fox Fine Jewelry. See ad in this issue for more information.

Ventura Harbor Comedy Club is offering Comic Relief in the form of free admission to victims of the Thomas fire, firefighters and their families and first responders. This offer will last until the end of March, and will be good for all show except for “Special Events. This offer will be on the honor system. Just mention the offer over the phone, or at the box office, and identify yourself as someone affected by the fire, or a firefighter, or first responder, or a family member of a firefighter or first responder, and you will be admitted with no cover charge no questions asked.

Reservation line is 644-1500.

Long beloved for its sense of community and ‘give back’ spirit, Spencer Makenzie’s is planning an ongoing fundraiser for the family of firefighter Cory Iverson, 32, who tragically lost his life fighting the Thomas Fire. The San Diego resident is survived by his wife, Ashley, who is expecting a second child in the spring, as well as a two year old daughter.

Spencer Makenzie’s will donate fifty cents of every bottle sold of their most popular hot sauce, Sweet Chili Fire, into a fund that will be turned over to the family after December 31, 2018. Interested parties can find the hot sauce at Spencer Makenzie’s as well as online.

Thomas Fire Benefit Festival on Saturday, February 3 in Plaza Park with outstanding entertainers and more. See the ad and article in this issue for more information.