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National Disaster

Legal Aid

Southern California Wildfires and Mudslides 2017

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES & MUDSLIDES HELP

Southern California Wildfires and Mudslides Recovery Information

The Disaster Legal Hotline is: 877-301-4448

Wildfires and mudslides broke out in several regions of Southern California beginning in December 2017 and many areas were significantly impacted. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced on January 15, 2018 that federal disaster assistance has been made available to residents of Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the areas, making federal funding available for emergency work and to individuals and businesses owners who sustain damage as a result of  the fires.

For DR 4353, as of January 15, 2018 direct federal financial assistance is available for impacted individuals and business owners in Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties.

Note:  THERE IS A 60 DAY WINDOW TO APPLY FOR FEMA.  Apply to FEMA to trigger the SBA Disaster loan process. THE SBA APPLICATION DEADLINE ALSO HAS A 60 DAY WINDOW.

Important Deadlines 

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

Key resources for those impacted by the hurricane and flooding

Government Disaster Relief Benefits

Residents and businesses affected by the fires 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 the wildfires, please visit FEMA's News & Updates-Southern California Wildfires page.

Legal Assistance and Other Resources 

  • A free legal hotline is now available for survivors of the fires and mudslides in California in Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties (additional counties may be added). Disaster survivors facing legal issues related to the fires and who are unable to afford a lawyer may call the hotline at 877-301-4448.

  • For a list of organizations that provide free legal assistance to low-income Californians, click here

  • Pepperdine Law Disaster Relief Clinic 

  • Pepperdine Law has launched a Disaster Relief Clinic to serve people affected by the wildfires in California. The Clinic is also connecting with legal aid agencies and volunteer lawyers in Northern California to extend assistance to people displaced by recent wildfires.Volunteer lawyers and law students are helping those who qualify with FEMA applications and appeals and related questions. All free of charge. Questions? Please contact the Pepperdine Law Disaster Relief  Clinic. P. 310.506.6350 E. jeff.baker@pepperdine.edu. 
  • The 2017-2018 Southern California Wildfires, Mudslides, and Related Disasters Helping Handbook was just released. The Handbook gathers in one place up-to-date, practical information on subjects that include housing, government benefits, insurance, FEMA assistance, replacement of lost documents, fraud prevention, and many others. The Helping Handbook is now available online in English. A Spanish version is forthcoming.

  • Hours are 8:30am to 5:30pm, Monday-Friday. Callers may also leave a message.

  • Visit LawHelpCA.org's Disaster Relief resources for additional information and online legal rights resources for wildfire survivors.

Other resources to help address legal needs resulting from this disaster

  • 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.  

  • You can also find resources on this site under For People Who Need Help.

  • Stay up-to-date with the latest on the News page.

  • Help After a Disaster: FEMA's Guide for the Individual Applicants

  • Visit uphelp.org for information on insurance and recovery questions. 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.

  • Thomas Fire Raises Insurance, Permitting, Tax and Mortgage Issues by Ventura County Bar Association.

Other Resources That Can Help

Recent News

For recent news related to the Southern California fires, please refer to the News & Alerts page.