State - CA (California)

Debris Removal: Frequently Asked Questions

State - California - CALOES - 12 hours 1 min ago

Following the deadliest week of wildfires in California history, the massive task of cleanup and debris removal has begun.  With over 8,400 structures destroyed in the 21 major wildfires statewide, California is now facing the largest debris removal effort in state history.    Here are some frequently asked questions you may have regarding getting the debris removal process started.

 Q: What is the Debris Removal Program?

A: The Debris Removal Program is made up of two phases: removal of Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) and removal of other fire-related debris.

County, state and federal agencies are organizing teams of experts from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) and the California State Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to inspect your property for HHW and remove it from the property.

In coordination with Cal OES, FEMA and local officials, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Cal Recycle will execute contracts to conduct fire related debris removal from properties.

Q: How do I get involved?

A: The first step is to contact county officials to help you complete a Right of Entry (ROE) form to allow access to your property. Once you give the consent to enter on to your property the County will coordinate with FEMA and Cal OES to develop a debris removal collection strategy.

Q: How do I obtain a Right of Entry form?

A: Your County has established centers where you can obtain Right of Entry (ROE) forms. Your County will advertise the locations of these centers and other methods to obtain the ROE.

Q: My home was destroyed in the fire. Can I go back onto my property to see if I can find any valuables or mementos?

A: Property owners who desire to search debris for possible salvageable items should do so with caution and with proper protective gear: eye protection, masks, gloves, long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Residents should minimize contact with fire debris. There may be Hazardous Household Waste, which contains materials that can be hazardous to your health.

Q: When will the debris removal begin?

A: Crews have already begun removal of HHW. Removal of fire debris is scheduled to begin by November 1, 2017.

Q: Who is going to pay for it?

A: There is no cost for debris removal the property owner. However, if property owners receive reimbursement for debris removal through their insurance, it is expected that property owners report the amount of proceeds to their local officials and may be required to remit that portion.

Q: Will USACE use local contractors in this effort?

A: Yes, under the USACE Advanced Contracting Initiative (ACI) the Prime Contractors are using local contractors. The prime contractors for this response are Ashbritt and Environmental Chemical Corporation. Local contractors can register as subcontractors at the primary contractor websites located at:
ashbritt.com
ecc.net 

Q: Will USACE use California State prevailing wage, Davis-Bacon, or GSA rate?

A: The USACE ACI contractor is required to pay Davis-Bacon or California state prevailing wage, whichever is higher.

Disaster Recovery Center Opening in Yuba County

State - California - CALOES - Sat, 10/21/2017 - 21:25

A Disaster Recovery Center (DRC), jointly operated by the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has opened in Yuba County, offering residents affected by the devastating October 2017 fires a one-stop shop for disaster assistance.

The center, located at the Yuba County Administrative Office, 915 Eighth St., Marysville, CA 95901, is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.

Present at the DRC are representatives from FEMA, the State of California, the U.S. Small Business Administration and other agencies. Residents of any of the designated counties for individual assistance –Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Sonoma and Yuba – can seek help at the Yuba DRC.

Before visiting the DRC, survivors 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 on 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.

Governor Brown Issues Executive Order to Help Remove Hazardous Waste from Wildfire-Impacted Neighborhoods

State - California - CALOES - Sat, 10/21/2017 - 12:41

Building on efforts to help streamline the recovery in communities impacted by California’s devastating wildfires, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued an executive order allowing the federal government to help with the initial removal of hazardous waste that poses an imminent threat to public health and safety.

The executive order allows qualified professionals at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to assist state and local officials in immediately removing visible hazardous debris such as batteries, flammable liquids, asbestos siding, paint and pipe insulation from burned homes. Initial removal of these hazards helps protect public health and the environment and allows residents and cleanup crews to more safely enter properties and continue the long-term recovery efforts.

Last week, Governor Brown declared a state of emergency for the counties of Solano, Napa, Sonoma, Yuba, Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Nevada and Orange due to the impacts of numerous wildfires, and this week issued an executive order to cut red tape and help streamline recovery efforts. The Governor has also secured a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to support the state and local response to the fires, within 24 hours of making the request, and federal direct aid for residents of Napa, Sonoma, Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Yuba, Orange and Nevada counties who have suffered losses due to the fires. Workers in these counties who have lost jobs or had work hours substantially reduced as a result of the fires are also now eligible for federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance benefits.
Last week, Governor Brown traveled to areas impacted by the fires with U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris and joined the state’s top emergency management officials for a briefing at the State Operations Center in Mather, and this week met with the FEMA administrator to discuss ongoing wildfire response and recovery efforts and visited firefighters and first responders in Orange County.

More information on California’s emergency response to the fires is available at the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services website.

The full text of today’s executive order is below:

 

Cal OES Launches WildfireRecovery.org to Help October Wildfire Survivors

State - California - CALOES - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 22:06

Cal OES has launched a “one-stop shop” website dedicated to helping survivors and supporters of the October 2017 wildfires, and anyone else interested in learning more. It’s an easy address to remember: WildfireRecovery.org.

Once there, visitors will find an ever-expanding page with valuable information, links and resources. For example, at the Assistance tab you’ll find valuable information on state individual assistance, federal individual assistance, tax relief for businesses and info on time extensions for private tax payers.

There’s also assistance and resources for state employees. Also in the Resources drop-down tab there’s the latest on shelters and evacuation centers, and information on volunteering and donations.  If you’re looking for help connecting with local assistance centers or contacts in the affected areas, we have that too.

There are videos and additional information about the State Operations Center and what the Governor has to say about the Presidential Declaration. There is also detailed info and links about all of the Emergency Proclamations and Declaration.

 

 

This site is new, and is a work in progress, but we wanted to get it out there for you ASAP. We’ll update it continuously with new and helpful content.  Navigation is easy, with convenient tabs for Overview, Assistance, Resources and Contacts.  So be sure to keep checking back at WildfireRecovery.org for the latest. We’re with you.

 

Beware of Scams and Fraudulent Phone Calls on Wildfire Survivors

State - California - CALOES - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 19:16

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – State and federal recovery officials urge California residents to watch for and report any suspicious activity or potential fraud from scam artists, identity thieves and other criminals who may try to prey on vulnerable survivors of the October wildfires.

Common post-disaster fraud practices include:

  • Fake offers of state or federal aid:
    • Beware if anyone claiming to be from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or the state visits, calls or emails asking for an applicant’s Social Security number, bank account number or other sensitive information.
    • Avoid scam artists who promise a disaster grant and ask for cash deposits or advance payments in full.
    • Know that federal workers do not solicit or accept money. FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) staff never charge applicants for disaster assistance, inspections or help in filling out applications. Do not give out information and report people claiming to be government workers to local police.
    • Provide your Social Security number and banking information only when registering for FEMA assistance, either by calling 800-621-3362, TTY 800-462-7585, or going online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or the smart phone FEMA App. If you use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services, call 800-621-3362. Operators are multilingual and calls are answered from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
  • Phony housing inspectors: Owners/applicants may be especially vulnerable to phony housing inspectors claiming to represent FEMA or SBA. An applicant should always:
    • Ask to see the inspector’s identification badge. All federal employees and contractors carry official, laminated photo identification.
    • Inspectors also have each applicant’s nine-digit registration number.
    • FEMA inspectors never require banking information.

It is important to note that FEMA housing inspectors verify damage, but do not hire or endorse specific contractors to fix homes or recommend repairs.  They do not determine your eligibility for assistance.

  • Fraudulent building contractors: When hiring a contractor, be sure to:
    • Use licensed local contractors backed by reliable references.
    • Demand that contractors carry general liability insurance and worker’s compensation.
  • Bogus pleas for post-disaster donations: Unscrupulous solicitors may play on the sympathy for disaster survivors. Disaster aid solicitations may arrive by phone, email, letter or face-to-face visits. Verify legitimate solicitation:
    • Ask for the charity’s exact name, street address, phone number, and Web address, then call the charity directly and confirm that the person asking for funds is an employee or volunteer.
    • Don’t pay with cash.
    • Request a receipt with the charity’s name, street address, phone number and Web address (if applicable).

Anyone with knowledge of fraud, waste or abuse may call the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or report it to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftccompliantassistant.gov

You may also send an email to DHSOIGHotline@dhs.gov

 

SBA to Open Disaster Loan Outreach Centers in Nevada City and Oroville

State - California - CALOES - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 16:01

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – District Director Heather Luzzi of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Sacramento District Office today announced the opening of two Disaster Loan Outreach Centers to meet the needs of businesses and individuals who were affected by the wildfires that began Oct. 8, 2017.

“SBA customer service representatives will be on hand at the following center to answer questions about SBA’s disaster loan program, explain the application process and help each individual complete their electronic loan application,” Luzzi said. The centers will be open on the days and times indicated. No appointment is necessary.

 

BUTTE COUNTY

Disaster Loan Outreach Center

Department of Development Services

Fire Assistance Center

7 County Center Drive

Oroville, CA  95965

Opens 8 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 26

Thursdays – Fridays, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Closes 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9

NEVADA COUNTY

Disaster Loan Outreach Center

Eric W. Rood County Administrative Center

950 Maidu Ave.

Nevada City, CA  95959

Opens 8 a.m. Monday, Oct. 23

Mondays – Wednesdays, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Closes 5 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8

Businesses of all sizes and private 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. SBA can also lend additional funds to businesses and homeowners to help with the cost of improvements to protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations of any size, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic injury assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage.

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.

Interest rates can be as low as 3.305 percent for businesses, 2.5 percent for private nonprofit organizations and 1.75 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, survivors must first register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency at www.disasterassistance.gov.

Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants 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. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX  76155.

The deadline to apply for property damage is Dec. 11, 2017. The deadline to apply for economic injury is July 12, 2018.

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SBA to Open Disaster Loan Outreach Center in Anaheim

State - California - CALOES - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 15:58

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – District Director J. Adalberto Quijada of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Santa Ana District Office today announced the opening of a Disaster Loan Outreach Center in Anaheim to meet the needs of businesses and individuals, who were affected by wildfires that began Oct. 8, 2017. The center will be located at the East Anaheim Community Center beginning Monday, Oct. 23.

“SBA customer service representatives will be on hand at the following center to answer questions about SBA’s disaster loan program, explain the application process and help each individual complete their electronic loan application,” Quijada said. The center will be open on the days and times indicated. No appointment is necessary.

ORANGE COUNTY

East Anaheim Community Center – Oak Room

sba8201 E. Santa Ana Canyon Road

Anaheim, CA  92808

Opens 9 a.m. Monday, Oct. 23

Mondays – Fridays, 9 a.m. –6 p.m.

Businesses of all sizes and private 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. SBA can also lend additional funds to businesses and homeowners to help with the cost of improvements to protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.

For small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations of any size, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic injury assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage.

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.

Interest rates can be as low as 3.305 percent for businesses, 2.5 percent for private nonprofit organizations and 1.75 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are set by SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, survivors must first register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency at www.disasterassistance.gov.

SBA Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants 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. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX  76155.

The deadline to apply for property damage is Dec. 11, 2017. The deadline to apply for economic injury is July 12, 2018.

 

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Response and Recovery Work Relief Comes Walking in on 16 Legs

State - California - CALOES - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 15:53

A group of happy and very hairy visitors greeted many of the hardworking staff at Cal OES lunchtime today. Four pet therapists and their owners enjoyed the attention they got from the emergency response and recovery team at the State Operations Center. But more importantly, those team members got to smile and relieve the immense stress and tension that’s been building while working 12-hour shifts with little to zero days off.

And that’s the purpose of these pooches – stress relief. They came from Foothill Therapy Dogs in Northern California. It’s been shown that spending a little time with a therapy dog like these can lower blood pressure, lower mental stress, provide social support and ultimately reduce health costs.

Pooches and Personnel on the Cal OES Patio

Just watching the interaction on the Cal OES patio and it all makes sense.

“I love these guys,” gushed Cal OES safety officer Hans Frederiksen. “It’s kind of relieving. No wonder they’re here.”

And it was obvious that Merideth Secor, FEMA chief of staff, fell head over heels in puppy love with Willow, a super soft and white Goldendoodle. The quality time she spent with Willow was magical; Secor’s stress was gone.

Merideth Secor & Willow

“I don’t want to go back inside though,” she said.

And Willow’s scent, left behind on my hands, reminds me of my own high school buddy, my Golden Retriever, Rocky. It made me smile and feel good inside long after I washed it away.

Click to view slideshow. Links

Foothill Therapy Dogs

In Association with:

PetPartners.org

State Health Officer Urges Caution During Wildfire Cleanup

State - California - CALOES - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 18:01

SACRAMENTO – California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith today advised residents of recently burned areas to use caution in cleaning up ash from recent wildfires. Ash from trees burned in wildfires is relatively nontoxic and similar to ash that might be found in your fireplace. However, ash from burned homes and other items will likely contain metals, chemicals, and potentially asbestos, items that may be considered toxic if breathed in or touched with wet skin.

“As the clean-up process begins and people return to burned areas, it is important to be aware of potential health hazards, understand how to reduce risks, and know when to seek medical attention,” said Dr. Smith.

If ash is inhaled, it can be irritating to the nose, throat, and lungs. Exposure to airborne ash may trigger asthmatic attacks in people who already have the respiratory condition. In order to avoid possible health problems, the following steps are recommended for people in burned areas with ash:

  • Do not allow children to play in ash or be in an area where ash-covered materials are being disturbed. Wash ash off toys before children play with them. Clean ash off pets.
  • Wear a tight-fitting N95 or P100 respirator mask, gloves, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants when cleaning up ash. Avoid skin contact. If you do get ash on your skin, wash it off immediately. Some wet ash can cause chemical burns.
  • Avoid getting ash into the air as much as possible, for example, by avoiding sweeping it up dry. Use water and wet cloth or a mop to clean items and surfaces. Do not use leaf blowers or take other actions that will put ash into the air.
  • Shop vacuums and other common vacuum cleaners do not filter out small particles. They blow such particles out the exhaust into the air where they can be inhaled. The use of shop vacuums and other non-HEPA filter vacuums is not recommended. HEPA filter vacuums could be used, if available.

“Residents should seek medical care if they experience health issues such as chest pain, chest tightness or shortness of breath. It is especially important to monitor children and young adults as they may be more susceptible to the health and emotional effects of fire recovery,” said Dr. Smith.

Avoid Breathing Wildfire Smoke

Smoke from wildfires can cause eye and respiratory irritation and some more serious disorders, including reduced lung function and bronchitis. Breathing smoke can also make asthma symptoms worse.

In areas where wildfires are still burning, people should stay indoors and reduce outdoor activity. People who must be outdoors for long periods, in areas with heavy smoke, or where ash is disturbed, should wear an N95 respirator mask. Those with underlying respiratory, lung or heart problems should limit their exposure by staying indoors. Since wearing a respirator can make it harder to breathe, those with lung or heart problems should ask their doctor before using one.

Visit CDPH’s website for more information on how you can protect yourself during a wildfire and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services for more information on the hazardous debris, and wildfire recovery

Are You Ready to ShakeOut?

State - California - CALOES - Thu, 10/19/2017 - 10:52

Today at 10:19 a.m., the world’s largest earthquake drill will take place and over 10 million Californian’s will practice what to do if the big one were to occur. While most will Drop, Cover and Hold On there are other ways to participate in the drill, which you can see HERE.

ShakeOut began in Southern California in 2008 as a drill designed to educate the public about how to protect themselves during a large earthquake, and how to get prepared. The 2008 Great Southern California ShakeOut was based on a potential magnitude 7.8 earthquake on the southern San Andreas Fault, approximately 5,000 times larger than the magnitude 5.4 earthquake that shook southern California on July 29, 2008. It’s not a matter of if an earthquake of this size will happen, but when. And it is possible that it will happen in our lifetime.

ShakeOut has been organized to help raise awareness as well as help Californians prepare for the big earthquakes in our future. Take the first step in your preparation today by REGISTERING for the Great California ShakeOut.

 

Governor Brown Issues Executive Order to Help Cut Red Tape, Expedite Recovery Efforts in Communities Impacted by Wildfires

State - California - CALOES - Wed, 10/18/2017 - 22:31

SACRAMENTO – Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued an executive order to cut red tape and help streamline recovery efforts in communities impacted by the devastating wildfires that have burned across California over the past ten days.

The executive order includes provisions that suspend planning and zoning requirements and state fees for manufactured homes and mobilehome parks to help displaced residents with housing needs; streamline regulations to allow facilities regulated by the California Department of Social Services and the California Department of Public Health that were impacted by the fires to remain open; extend the state’s prohibition on price gouging during emergencies; allow wineries to relocate their tasting rooms; allow for the expedited hiring of additional personnel for emergency and recovery operations; and strengthen coordination between state agencies on environmental restoration in fire impacted areas.

Last week, Governor Brown declared a state of emergency for the counties of SolanoNapa, Sonoma, YubaButte, Lake, Mendocino, Nevada and Orange due to the impacts of numerous wildfires. The Governor also secured a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to support the state and local response to the fires, within 24 hours of making the request, and federal direct aid for residents of Napa, SonomaButte, Lake, Mendocino, Yuba, Orange and Nevada counties who have suffered losses due to the fires. Workers in these counties who have lost jobs or had work hours substantially reduced as a result of the fires are also now eligible for federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance benefits.

Last week, Governor Brown traveled to areas impacted by the fires with U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris and joined the state’s top emergency management officials for a briefing at the State Operations Center in Mather, and this week met with the FEMA administrator to discuss ongoing wildfire response and recovery efforts and visited firefighters and first responders in Orange County.

More information on California’s emergency response to the fires is available at the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services website.

The full text of today’s executive order is available HERE.

 

 

 

California Wildfires Create New Danger: Hazardous Debris

State - California - CALOES - Tue, 10/17/2017 - 20:16

Statewide wildfires that scarred communities across Northern and Southern California now pose a new threat. As changing weather patterns and tireless work of more than 11,000 firefighters boost containment lines, communities devastated by the fires face potential health risks associated with the improper handling of fire debris.

The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) is warning returning residents against sweeping or sifting through ash or debris before cleanup by designated agencies begins. Exposure to ash, soot, and other hazardous material left in the wake of wildfires can cause serious and potentially deadly health problems.

The California Environmental Protection Agency notes that fire ash contains tiny particles of dust, dirt, and soot that can be inhaled if the ash becomes airborne. These particles could contain trace amounts of metals like lead, cadmium, nickel and arsenic; asbestos from older homes or other buildings; perfluorochemicals (from degradation of non-stick cookware, for example); flame retardants; and caustic materials. In addition to irritating your skin, nose, and throat, substances like asbestos, nickel, arsenic, and cadmium have been known to cause cancer.

Here are some helpful tips, courtesy of CalRecycle, to reduce risks.

  • Avoid any activity that disturbs the debris or kicks ash and associated chemicals into the air.
  • Those working directly with wildfire debris are advised to wear gloves, long shirts and pants, and other clothing to help prevent skin-to-skin contact.
  • It’s best to change shoes and clothing once off-site to avoid contaminating other areas.
  • Masks certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are also recommended when exposure to wildfire dust or ash can’t be avoided.

CalEPA recommends NIOSH-certified air-purifying respirator masks, which can be found at most hardware stores. A mask rated N-95 is much more effective than simpler dust or surgical masks in blocking particles from ash. Although smaller sized masks may appear to fit a child’s face, none of the manufacturers recommend their use for children. If children are in an area that warrants wearing a mask, they should be moved to an environment with cleaner air.

 

Additional resources

Cal OES

CAL FIRE

FEMA

 

Editor’s note: Lance Klug of the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) contributed to this story.

California Secures Unemployment Assistance Benefits for Workers Impacted by Wildfires

State - California - CALOES - Tue, 10/17/2017 - 19:40

SACRAMENTO – Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced that federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) benefits are available for workers and self-employed individuals who lost jobs or had work hours substantially reduced as a result of the wildfires in Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Sonoma and Yuba counties.

This federal assistance, administered by the California Employment Development Department (EDD), provides temporary unemployment benefits to people whose jobs or work hours were directly impacted by the fires. Affected individuals are encouraged to apply online no later than November 16, 2017. Claimants can also file by phone at 1-800-300-5616 (English) or 1-800-326-8937 (Spanish).

The White House previously approved California’s request for direct aid to individuals and families inNapa, Sonoma, Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Yuba, Orange and Nevada counties who have suffered losses due to the fires. More information on the federal Individual Disaster Assistance program is available here.

On Saturday, Governor Brown and U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris traveled to areas impacted by the fires to meet with local leaders and emergency management officials and join a community meeting in Santa Rosa. Last week, Governor Brown secured a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to support the state and local response to the fires, within 24 hours of making the request, and joined the state’s top emergency management officials for a briefing at the State Operations Center in Mather.

The Governor has declared a state of emergency for Solano CountyNapa, Sonoma and Yuba counties, and Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Nevada and Orange counties due to the effects of the devastating fires.

More information on California’s emergency response to the fires is available at the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services website.

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Returning Safely To Neighborhoods For Evacuees

State - California - CALOES - Tue, 10/17/2017 - 12:32

Some evacuated residents from the devastating California statewide wildfires are being allowed back into their neighborhoods. As they do, risks still remain.

The unpredictably of living in a disaster-prone state such as California reinforces the importance of ensuring that residents are always prepared. Whether it’s an earthquake, flood or wildfire, it is paramount to have a plan and be ready. During these events, evacuations are common in impacted counties and neighboring communities.

Below are recommended tips from the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and Department of Transportation (Caltrans) on how to properly evacuate and to return home safely.

 

Before the disaster

Always be prepared if you live in or near an area with the potential for a disaster. This includes having at least two ways out of your neighborhood in case one is blocked.

Important steps:

  • Turn on your TV/radio. You’ll get the latest weather updates and emergency instruction.
  • Know where to go. If you are ordered to evacuate, know the route to take and have plan of where you will go. Check-in with your friends and family.
  • Keep your car fueled, in good condition, and stocked with emergency supplies and a change of clothes.

 

During the disaster
  • If there is an emergency in the area, be ready to evacuate on short notice.
  • If ordered to evacuate, do it immediately – make sure and tell someone where you are going and when you have arrived.
  • During an evacuation, remain calm and follow the instructions of emergency personnel.
  • Monitor your property and the fire situation.  Do not wait for an evacuation order if you feel threatened and need to leave.
  • Leave as soon as the evacuation is recommended by fire officials to avoid being caught in fire, smoke, or road congestion.

 

After the disaster
  • Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
  • Respect highway closures.
  • Watch for emergency crews and maintenance out fixing the roads post fire.
  • Be alert that trees may fall and block the roadway so exercise caution
  • Use caution when entering burned areas as hazards may still exist, including downed power lines and hot spots, which can flare up without warning. Evacuate immediately if you smell smoke.
  • For several hours after the fire maintain a “fire watch.” Check and re-check for smoke, sparks or hidden embers throughout the house, including the roof and the attic.
  • Signs and guardrail might be missing due to the fires, so reduce speeds and use extra caution while driving in areas impacted by fire.
  • Be aware of:
    • Trees, brush, and rocks that may be weakened or loosened by fire.
    • Debris or damage from fire on roads and driveways.
    • Debris on the road near your home and in your driveway.
    • Clearing the debris to the edge of your driveway and removing it later will help keep your home safe from fire.
    • Utility poles weakened by fire.

 

Driving Safety Tips

  • Do not speed in fire evacuation areas; obey the posted speed limits.
  • Stay Alert. Expect the unexpected.
  • Watch for emergency workers and other vehicles; drive with caution.
  • Turn on headlights so that workers and other drivers can see you.
  • Allow ample space between you and the car in front of you.
  • Listen for traffic you cannot see.
  • Be more observant. Visibility is often limited due to smoke and falling ash.
  • Give emergency crews room to work.  Stay at least four (4) car lengths back from emergency vehicles and other equipment.
  • Be Patient.

 

What to do if trapped in a vehicle: 

  • Stay calm.
  • Park your vehicle in an area clear of vegetation.
  • Close all vehicle windows and vents.
  • Cover yourself with a wool blanket or jacket.
  • Lie on the floor of the vehicle.
  • Use your cell phone to advise officials – call 9-1-1.

An evacuation plan and list for an emergency supply kit are available at http://www.readyforwildfire.org

Before you start your trip, check the latest travel conditions at http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/.

QuickMap is available in both Google Play and in the App Store. For more information, visit

http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/QM/app.htm.

 

Additional sources:

Cal OES

CAL FIRE

FEMA

Pages

Subscribe to Volunteer Mobile Emergency Response Unit -- rehabsector.org aggregator - State - CA (California)