Fires

Sonoma County fire victims can apply for federal disaster aid

Amid wildfire ashes, flags fly

Two American flags are on display in the ruins of Santa Rosa's Coffey Park neighborhood, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017
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Two American flags are on display in the ruins of Santa Rosa's Coffey Park neighborhood, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017

Sonoma County residents who suffered damage or losses from the fires that began Oct. 8 may now register for disaster assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The amendment to the presidential disaster declaration of Oct. 9 makes federal assistance available to eligible individuals and businesses in Sonoma County. Damage assessments are continuing in other areas, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated, according to a FEMA news release.

Fire survivors who primarily reside in Sonoma County can apply online, at DisasterAssistance.gov, or by phone at 800-621-3362 or the TTY number, 800-462-7585. Applicants who use 711 or Video Relay Service may call 800-621-3362. The toll-free numbers are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

Applicants will be asked to provide their Social Security number, the address of the damaged primary residence, a description of the damage, insurance coverage information, a current contact telephone number, an address where they can receive mail, and 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 under-insured personal property losses, and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance.

Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration are available for businesses, including landlords, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters. The disaster loans cover losses not fully covered by insurance or other recoveries.

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

Disaster survivors must register with FEMA to receive federal aid, even if they have registered with another disaster-relief organization, such as the Red Cross.

For more information, see FEMA’s disaster web page, at www.fema.gov/disaster/4344; Twitter, at https://www.twitter.com/femaregion9; and the CalOES website, http://www.caloes.ca.gov/.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy

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