[Cal EMA News] – The recovery process following the Powerhouse Fire in Los Angeles County continued this week as disaster recovery specialists from the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) and the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) toured Lake Hughes, Lake Elizabeth and other communities affected by the fire to verify damages to homes and businesses. These visits determine the next step in helping get those affected further on the road to recovery.
During the tour, Cal EMA and SBA recovery specialists were accompanied by representatives from the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management and Department of Public Works, as well as Cal EMA’s Southern Region staff.
“We realize events like the Powerhouse Fire leave an indelible mark on the lives of those who have been affected,” said Cal EMA Individual Assistance Officer Karma Hackney. “In many cases, emergency housing, help with repairs and other forms of assistance are available from nongovernmental agencies such as the American Red Cross and Salvation Army and faith-based organizations.”
In addition, Hackney said, survivors can usually find help from local and state agencies in dealing with post-emergency mental health issues and insurance-related problems, obtaining lost birth certificates, driver’s licenses and other vital records, as well as avoiding disputes with contractors hired to repair or rebuild damaged properties.
“Cal EMA also realizes some emergencies are beyond the capability of the local, state and non-governmental agencies, as well as the survivors,” she noted.
In such cases, Cal EMA works with federal partners such as the SBA to help those affected cover costs not met by insurance and other forms of assistance.
Preliminary Damage Assessments, like the one conducted on June 17, are a major step in attempting to obtain assistance such as low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters and business owners of all sizes.
“SBA participates in joint preliminary damage assessments with the State of California to gain a full understanding of the impact of the disaster on the communities that were affected and to ensure that SBA has all the data available to respond appropriately should we receive a request for a disaster declaration from the Governor,” said SBA Supervisory Public Information Officer Richard Jenkins.
Hackney stressed disaster programs are meant to supplement – and not replace or duplicate – insurance or other forms of assistance.
“It’s important that they recognize that disaster assistance programs are not a panacea,” she said. “We encourage every Californian to prepare for the next fire by creating a defensible space, carrying applicable insurance and taking other measures to make their properties safer.”
Additional information on disaster preparedness and recovery is available at www.calema.ca.gov.