Tuolumne County residents and businesses can now begin registering with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for financial assistance and other programs to help recover from damage caused by historic winter storms in February and March.
Seven California counties, including Tuolumne, were included Monday, April 3, in President Joe Biden’s major disaster declaration to make federal funding available to those affected by severe winter storms, straight-line winds, flooding, landslides and mudslides that began in February. 21.
FEMA spokesman Chad Bowman said the agency’s disaster survivor assistance teams are expected to hit the ground as early as Saturday in Tuolumne County to go door-to-door in hard-hit areas. affected by winter storms and sign people on site. for possible assistance if they qualify.
Bowman said the agency is also working with the county to establish disaster recovery where people can go and speak with FEMA representatives in person about the types of assistance available to them.
“It really comes down to, if you’ve suffered damage from these storms, we want you to sign up,” Bowman said Friday. “There’s nothing wrong with doing it, and if you don’t, you might miss the opportunity.”
This marks the first time in history that Tuolumne County has been part of a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration that provides assistance through FEMA to individuals and businesses.
Tuolumne County was approved earlier this year for public assistance that will help ease costs and damages suffered by public agencies and nonprofits from the series of atmospheric storms in December and January, although too few homes and businesses were damaged to qualify for individual assistance.
Financial assistance potentially available to individuals and businesses due to the February and March storms may include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and others. programs to help them recover.
Bowman encouraged anyone with property damage to register, even if it seems small compared to others they might know, in case they meet the eligibility criteria.
“If you don’t sign up, you don’t qualify,” he said. “If you do (sign up), you might qualify.”
Tuolumne County and the City of Sonora have received more than 330 responses to requests for storm damage reports from county and city residents and businesses since late February, according to Dore Bietz, coordinator of the office of county emergency services.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said in his request to Biden for the major disaster declaration that Tuolumne County should be included because 32% of the population lacks homeowners and personal property insurance, and less than 5% have flood insurance.
Bowman said the first step people should take is to contact their homeowners insurance company if they have one, but if they don’t, then they can go directly to FEMA.
Bietz said Friday the county is working with FEMA and other agencies to eventually establish the disaster recovery center at the County Community Resilience Center in Tuolumne Township, but that hasn’t been finalized yet.
There will also be mobile disaster recovery centers in various locations around the county over the next few weeks.
In the meantime, Bowman said people can also register online at www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling (800) 621-3362.