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Deadline at hand for wildfire relief grants, loans

Residents who suffered damage during the Valley Fire in September have until Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020, to apply for FEMA.
Credit: County News Center

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Homeowners or renters who suffered damages during the Valley Fire in September have until Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020, to apply for Federal Emergency Management Agency grants.

The disbursements are designed to help with serious disaster-related expenses not covered by insurance, such as rent, home repair or replacement, medical or dental costs, transportation, or other personal property losses.

Residents or businesses can also apply for a low-interest loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

FEMA awards help eligible survivors pay for rent, home repair/replacement and many other serious disaster-related needs, including replacement or repair of vehicles, funeral expenses, medical or dental expenses and miscellaneous other costs. To be reimbursed by FEMA, survivors should photograph damage and save receipts for repair work.

Those who believe they are eligible are advised to contact their insurers and file a claim for the disaster-caused damage before they register with FEMA, though anyone with insurance should register with FEMA even if they are not yet certain whether they will be eligible. FEMA may be able to help with costs that insurance does not cover.

The agency can determine eligibility once an applicant's insurance claim is settled -- but there will not be any FEMA reimbursement for those who fail to register by the deadline.

There are three ways for survivors to register: online at DisasterAssistance.gov, with the FEMA Mobile App on a smart phone or tablet, or by calling the FEMA help line at 800-621-3362 between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Grant applicants will be asked to give the need for funding and the following information:

-- Social Security number;

-- insurance policy information;

-- address of the damaged primary residence;

-- description of the damage and losses;

-- a current contact telephone number;

-- an address where they can receive mail; and

-- bank account and routing numbers for direct deposit of funds.

Wednesday is also the deadline to apply for a disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the primary source of recovery funding for many.

Those who were adversely affected by the Valley Fire can find out more and apply for a loan at DisasterLoanAssistance.sba.gov/, and get further assistance by contacting the SBA Virtual Disaster Loan Outreach Center, which is open 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and can be reached at 800-659-2955 or FOCWAssistance@sba.gov.

The eastern San Diego County wildland blaze, which broke out early on the afternoon of Sept. 5 off Spirit Trail and Carveacre Road in Japatul Valley, blackened 16,390 acres, destroyed 30 residences and 31 outbuildings, damaged 11 other structures, and left three firefighters injured.