A natural disaster can happen anywhere and at any time, it can be detrimental to life if a person is not prepared.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) mission is to help people before, during, and after a natural disaster.
FEMA is now offering assistance for residents impacted by the Creek Fire and by the wildfires burning across the state.
Residents are encouraged to register for relief and if allowed to return to their homes, FEMA asks to provide pictures of the damages and a full description. Some residents have already registered with FEMA.
“The most important thing, is that you first reach out to your insurance and file a claim for the disaster that caused damage because FEMA does not duplicate benefits. Even though you do have insurance, we recommend the services of FEMA just in case they can help with costs your insurance doesn’t cover,” says Briana Summer Fenton, Media Relations Specialist for FEMA.
For eligible residents, FEMA covers rent, home replacement, repairing or replacing vehicles, medical or dental expenses.
In early September, the Creek Fire broke out in the Big Creek drainage area near Shaver Lake. The fire quickly spread and has now burned over 367,656 acres and continues to burn.
The fire has become the largest single fire in state history and has displaced thousands from their homes. It is currently 61 percent contained as of October 23.
In the time of COVID-19, FEMA is offering a virtual inspection, where an inspector can assess damages and determine what benefits a person is eligible for.
The deadline to register for assistance is December 15.
For businesses affected by the Creek Fire, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is also taking registrations, with a similar process as FEMA.
Businesses can be eligible for a loan up to $2 million with a low-interest rate of only 3 percent, and non-profit businesses can receive a low-interest rate of 2.75 percent.
The SBA also offers up to $200,000 in disaster loans for homeowners and renters with a low-interest rate of 1.18 percent with a term of up to 30 years. Residents can be eligible for $40,000 to repair or replace any damaged house appliances or personal properties.
To register, visit DisasterAssistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362. FEMA recommends downloading their mobile app, making an account for easier accessibility.
For business relief from the Small Business Administration, residents can visit www.sba.gov.