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National Disaster

Legal Aid

California Wildfires 2020

WILDFIRES HELP FOR PEOPLE IN CALIFORNIA

Disaster Legal Help Hotline: (888) 382-3406

Wildfires affected areas in California beginning on August 14, 2020 and continuing. On August 22, 2020, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of California to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected during this period. Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. People in the following counties are eligible to receive federal disaster assistance: 

  • Lake
  • Monterey
  • Napa
  • San Mateo
  • Santa Cruz
  • Solano
  • Sonoma
  • Yolo
  • Butte
  • Santa Clara
  • Trinity
  • Tulare
  • Lassen(additional counties may be added) 

For DR-4558, assistance for affected individuals and families is available and people are urged to apply through FEMA.

Disaster Number: 4558

IMPORTANT DEADLINES

FEMA Application Deadline

Saturday, November 21st, 2020

The extension agreed upon by the state and FEMA is for survivors living in the disaster-designated individual assistance counties of Butte, Lake, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo. Please see the FEMA Press Release for further information.

Appeal Your FEMA Decision Within 60 days of the date on the determination letter

Key resources for those impacted by this disaster

GOVERNMENT DISASTER RELIEF BENEFITS

Residents and businesses affected by this disaster can apply for government disaster relief benefits in several ways:

  • Online at DisasterAssistance.gov
  • On the FEMA Mobile App, or by
  • Calling 800-621-3362 (FEMA). Applicants who use 711 or Video Relay Service may also call 800-621-3362. People who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability and use a TTY may call 800-462-7585. The toll-free numbers are open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET, seven days a week. Multilingual operators are available. Press 2 for Spanish and press 3 for other languages. 
  • For official news and press releases related to this disaster, please visit FEMA's News & Updates- California Wildfires.
  • Note: Apply to FEMA to trigger the SBA Disaster loan process.
  • Download this quick guide for an overview on the disaster assistance process. 
  • Disaster Unemployment Assistance: If you are unemployed due to a disaster or emergency, you may be eligible for Unemployment Insurance (UI), Disability Insurance, or Paid Family Leave benefits. When authorized by the President, Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) may also be available for workers and self-employed who do not qualify for regular UI benefits.
  • Do you need help understanding the FEMA application and appeals process? Download this free and simple guide that breaks down the process of enrolling in FEMA's Individual Assistance program. It also explains how to appeal FEMA's decision if you are denied aid or need more assistance and explains your rights when interacting with FEMA. Click here

LEGAL ASSISTANCE AND RESOURCES

  • TOLL-FREE LEGAL AID HOTLINES are now available for wildfire survivors who cannot pay for an attorney:
    • (888) 382-3406 for those in Lake, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, and Yolo Counties
    • Click here for the full press release. Individuals who qualify for assistance will be matched with a lawyer who has volunteered to provide free legal limited assistance. Callers may also leave a message. English and Spanish speaking attorneys will be available.
  • For legal assistance and other disaster recovery information, please review the following resources:
    • www.disasterlegalservicesca.org – This statewide website hosted by DLAC offers a wide variety of legal assistance for disaster survivors, including FEMA benefits, insurance claims, landlord tenant and homeowner issues, employment questions, and consumer issues. The site also includes legal assistance related to Covid-19.
    • LawHelpCA.org Disaster Relief Resources - This statewide website, hosted by the Legal Aid Association of
      California, provides information about common legal issues in addition to disaster relief information. It also has an updated directory of pre-screened organizations that offer free or lowcost legal advice and representation.
    • www.uphelp.org – United Policyholders (UP) is a national nonprofit 501(c)(3) consumer advocacy group that specializes in helping disaster survivors with insurance claim issues. UP also trains case managers and legal aid lawyers to assist clients with insurance and recovery matters, and for help with flood, wind, hurricane and auto insurance questions.
    • The State Bar of California - Legal Help for People Impacted by the California Fires 
    • The August 2020 California Wildfires Helping Handbook has been updated for the 8 relevant counties and is available at www.mofo.com/2020-wildfires.  The handbook is current as of August 29, 2020. 
  • If you need to appeal a FEMA denial on your own, please see here to get an interactive form to appeal and letter requesting a copy of your file.
  • For Frequently Asked Questions about FEMA appeals, please click here.
  • Stay up-to-date with the latest on the News page.
  • Help After a Disaster: FEMA's Guide for the Individual Applicants
  • You might get a call about applying for an SBA loan.  Listen!

OTHER RESOURCES THAT CAN HELP

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