FEMA to help Northern California residents impacted by fires


SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Residents of Butte, Lake, Mendocino, and Yuba counties who suffered damage or losses from the devastating fires that started on October 8, and continue to burn, can register for disaster assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), if they are able to do so.

The amendment to the presidential disaster declaration on Oct. 10 now makes federal assistance available to eligible individuals and business owners in Butte, Lake, Mendocino, Sonoma, and Yuba counties.

Officials said survivors who primarily reside in one of the six designated counties can apply online at or by phone at 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585. Applicants who use 711 or Vide 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 will be asked for the following information:

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

Disaster assistance for homeowners and renters may include grants to help pay for temporary housing, essential home repairs, uninsured and underinsured personal property losses, and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance.

Officials said low-interest disaster loans from the U.S Small Business Administration (SBA) are available to businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners and renters. Disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries.

FEMA grants do not have to be repaid and FEMA assistance is nontaxable and will not affect eligibility for Social Security, Medicaid, or other federal benefits.

Registering with FEMA is required for federal aid, even if a survivor has registered with another disaster-relief organization, such as the American Red Cross.

Officials said survivors should register even if they have insurance. FEMA cannot duplicate insurance payment, but underinsured applicants may receive help after their claims have been settled.