FEMA changes course with wildfire help, much to homeowners’ relief


The federal help will assist homeowners in debris cleanup efforts

SHAVER LAKE, California (KSEE) — Federal help is on the way after all for Creek Fire relief efforts. In less than 24 hours, the Trump administration reversed its decision in rejecting the state’s disaster request.

The chance is a relief for homeowners, who are still in the middle of clearing their properties. But even if this didn’t happen, state help already was on the way.

Mark Hansen is one of many along Auberry Road who lost everything to the Creek Fire. His family is already working on rebuilding their home of 15 years.

The first step is getting the property cleaned up, but even with their insurance, the cost to do that is getting pricey.

“Under California law, they want [us to use] these licensed contractors,” Hansen said. “What the California Fair Plan is going to pay for clean up doesn’t come close to the coverage of cleaning it up.”

The growing bill is why Hansen is relieved to hear aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA is coming after all.

It’s not clear when help through the Major Presidential Disaster Declaration will come, but state help could be coming this weekend.

Before news of FEMA changing course, Assemblyman Jim Patterson said Friday morning he had been in contact with CalOES, who will be offering funds through the Recovery CA Disaster Assistance Act.

In a press conference over Zoom, Patterson said the sooner the cleanup happens, the better. 

“We’re going to see rain and snow pretty soon. If we don’t get into those areas quickly, we’re going to miss this window,” Patterson said. “We’re going to end up seeing mudslides, where this toxic debris goes into the San Joaquin River watershed.”

For Hansen and his family, rebuilding is an easy choice — because they already know what it takes to overcome a disaster.

“We lost a 10-year-old son seven years ago,” he said fighting back tears. “So losing the house is just not that bad.”

There are several community funds going that will go directly to helping homeowners rebuild what they’ve lost to the Creek Fire.

You can click here to donate to the Resiliency Fund. The Shaver Lake Visitors Bureau also started the Rebuild Our Sierra fundraiser to raise $1 million for Creek Fire victims. You can click here for that one.

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