BUTTE COUNTY (CBS13) — While most Camp Fire victims are out of immediate danger, a long road to recovery lies before them.
The fire, which grew to 138,000 acres Wednesday, has displaced 52,000 residents, 1,385 of which are staying in shelters. With 10,321 structures destroyed, thousands of people have lost their homes, their jobs, and their sense of normalcy.
Many state agencies are working to ease the burden placed on those affected by the fires. The Employment Development Department (EDD) eased the process to receive unemployment benefits and the Insurance Commissioner declared an emergency situation.
Many resources for victims will be available at the Local Assistance Center in the old Sears at 1982 E 20th St, Chico, CA 95928. The center will open Friday and will operate from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
Because thousands of people have lost their job due to the fire, the Office of Emergency Services announced Wednesday that the week waiting period has been waived for Butte, Los Angeles, and Ventura Counties.
This means that individuals who lost their job in the fire do not have to wait the customary week before filing for unemployment benefits with the EDD. This applies to claims filed between Nov. 8, 2018, and May 8, 2019.
Additionally, employers in those counties have been given an extension to file and pay payroll taxes.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) benefits are available to workers, business owners and self-employed individuals who lost
their jobs or businesses, or had their work hours substantially reduced as a result of the Camp Fire, or the fires in Southern California.
DUA benefits are a result of President’s Federal Disaster declaration on Monday. These benefits are for people who are affected by the fires but who do not qualify for regular state unemployment insurance benefits, according to the EDD website. Applicants have until Dec. 14, 2018 to apply for DUA benefits.
The EDD also helps provide assistance with filing claims for unemployment insurance benefits, job search assistance, group support, referrals, and more resources at local assistance centers.
More information on EDD Disaster-Related Services can be found on their website.
In an effort to help those who lost their homes, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones declared an emergency situation, allowing insurance companies to use out-of-state adjusters to assist with the large volume of claims from the Camp and Woolsey Fires.
More than 8,650 homes have been destroyed by the Camp Fire, prompting Jones to issue a formal notice to all insurers, licensed public adjusters and admitted carriers to make sure all claims adjusters assigned to wildfire claims, including those not licensed in California but working under a California licensed adjuster, are properly trained on the California Unfair Practices Act, Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations, and all laws relating to property and casualty insurance claims handling.
New laws passed after last year’s wine county fires include:
- Policyholders now have 36 months after a declared disaster to collect full replacement cost to rebuild, replace at another location, or purchase an already built home at a new location.
- Additional living expense coverage is available for 36 months but is subject to policy provisions.
Policyholders should contact their insurance company to begin the claims process. The Department of Insurance also has a consumer hotline at 800-927-HELP (4357) for assistance. Victims can also visit the Department’s website for tips and advice.