Some of the people displaced by the 2017 Cascade Fire are starting to get the first payments from the Wildfire Assistance Program, according to a press release from Pacific Gas and Electric.
The $105 million fund, which was approved by a judge in PG&E’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, is intended to help those who suffered wildfire losses and who are uninsured, need assistance with living expenses or have other urgent needs.
“Payments to eligible individuals and households started last Friday,” said Wildfire Assistance Program Administrator Cathy Yanni, in a press release. “We worked quickly to establish and file the eligibility criteria with the court so we could begin reviewing applications as soon possible. We urge people displaced by the fires with unmet needs to apply, particularly those currently without adequate shelter.”
Tiffany Norwood, a project manager with the claims administrator, didn’t have details about the number of Yuba County residents who were impacted by the Cascade Fire that have filed claims. Approximately 4,500 claims have been filed in total.
To qualify for the payments, applicants’ primary residence must have been within the boundary of the Northern California wildfires in 2017 or the Camp Fire in 2018 during the time of those events.
People also must establish proof of identity and certify that they are not requesting payments for an expense already paid for by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Applicants can request support for “basic unmet needs,” which will provide each qualifying household with $5,000 for needs such as water, food, prescriptions, medical supplies and equipment, infant formula and diapers, personal hygiene items, and transportation fuels beyond what FEMA covered in the days immediately following the disasters.
Those who receive basic payments may also qualify for a supplemental unmet needs payment. These funds will be available, however, only after all basic payments have been issued. The administrator has been empowered to approve supplemental payments for households which currently face extreme or extraordinary circumstances.
PG&E has no role in reviewing or approving claims submitted to the Wildfire Assistance Program and said it’s providing $105 million for the fund from the company’s cash reserves and will not seek cost recovery from its customers, according to a press release.
The deadline to file a claim is Friday, Nov. 15, with final payments expected to be made by the end of the First Quarter of 2020.
Filing a claim:
Tiffany Norwood, project manager, outlined what’s needed to file a claim.
“The online claim process is very easy and is broken into five sections to capture the necessary information for individuals and households to file claims,” she said. “Claimants must provide documentation verifying their identity and confirming the address of the affected property.”
She said some documents, such as a driver’s license with the address of the affected property, can satisfy both requirements, but other documents, such as a utility bill, can only satisfy the documentation of affected property address requirement.
“There is no limit to the amount any one person can receive for a supplemental unmet needs claim; however, payments to supplemental unmet needs claims will be contingent upon the amount of funds available after all qualifying basic unmet needs payments have been issued,” she said.
Documents that can be used to file a claim:
– A copy of a valid driver’s license or California identification card.
– A U.S. Passport.
– A foreign passport with Form 1-94.
– Form 1099 or W-2.
– Pay stubs showing the address of the Affected Property and date within 60 days of the fire damage.
– Bills sent to the address of the Affected Property dated within 60 days of the fire damage.
A valid lease/rental agreement showing the property/unit address and covering the period during which the property was damaged by the fire.