How to ask FEMA for help with the Dixie fire – Forbes Advisor
Editorial Note: Forbes Advisor may earn a commission on sales made from partner links on this page, but this does not affect the opinions or ratings of our editors.
It has been 57 days since the Dixie fire started in northern California. It continues to burn with intense fury over more than 900,000 acres – making it the second largest wildfire in California history – with no end in sight.
Adverse weather conditions, including intense heat and lack of rain, made the battle against the fire tedious. The blaze has prompted evacuation orders and warnings, with worrying signs that more could arise if it continues to rage at its current rate.
As of September 7, only 59% of the fire was under control and it had already destroyed nearly 1,300 structures, with 6,000 others still at risk.
Some families may be displaced by the fire or have suffered damage to their homes. Since the end of August, federal assistance has been available for eligible affected persons. Here’s how to apply.
Federal aid to Californians affected by Dixie Wildfire
On August 24, President Joe Biden approved the California disaster declaration. The approval made a variety of federal funding available to help eligible people affected by the California wildfires.
Federal funding is available to individuals in Lassen, Nevada, Placer and Plumas counties. People living in these counties will need to apply directly online at Disasterassitance.gov or call 800-621-FEMA.
According to FEMA, people with home insurance must first file a claim with their insurance company before applying for federal relief funds. FEMA can only provide assistance for losses not covered by insurance.
After you apply, FEMA will determine your eligibility for various grants, including the following outlined in a White House press release:
Funds are available for temporary housing for those who cannot live in their homes due to the risk of an ongoing fire or if their home has been destroyed. This assistance may include rental assistance or reimbursement of hotel expenses, but you must apply to FEMA to receive the funds.
People whose homes are damaged as a result of the fire may be eligible for home repairs. This aid involves rebuilding or performing basic repairs to a house so that it is safe, hygienic and functional, which means that the funds will cover the bare minimum of repairs. Inspection may be required, so be prepared for this step after application.
Low cost loans for loss of uninsured property
Small Business Administration (SBA) loans are available for repairs or replacement costs that are not fully covered by insurance. These loans are available for businesses (up to $ 2 million) and homeowners (up to $ 200,000 to repair or replace their primary residence, or up to $ 40,000 to replace personal property, such as clothing, furniture, cars and appliances).
The loan term of these loans for physical damage can be up to 30 years without penalty or prepayment charge. Interest rates will not exceed 4% for applicants who cannot obtain credit elsewhere. A guarantee will be requested from the SBA to secure the loan when possible.
Keep in mind that these loans cannot be used on second homes or vacation properties; however, eligible rental properties may be eligible for assistance under the SBA business physical disaster loan program.
Climate change means more forest fires to come
Forest fires are a natural occurrence to maintain the balance of the earth’s ecosystem, but they are becoming more and more frequent as climate change makes the planet warmer. This means that disasters such as the current Dixie wildfire may continue to threaten the well-being and livelihoods of people in dry and drought-stricken areas.
The Biden administration has an ambitious climate agenda that aims to mitigate the impacts of climate change in the country and move towards a more sustainable future. These efforts include slowing the development of fossil fuels, increasing reliance on renewables, and suspending new oil and gas drilling leases.
And while the plans are ambitious, some say Biden has done little so far to achieve his ambitions. According to the New York Times, climate activists currently fear “robust climate measures could be removed from the second infrastructure bill, which would likely leave them on the cutting room floor for the foreseeable future as Republicans could secure the majority in Congress at mid-term of 2022 ”.