San Bruno victims still waiting for financial help

December 6, 2010 7:06:00 PM PST
Three months after the PG&E pipeline disaster in San Bruno, victims are still waiting for financial help. They have not received a dime of the money in the sizeable relief fund that was set up after the explosion and fire.

The Red Cross has $1 dollars in its San Bruno disaster fund, and now that the initial emergency has passed, it is basically just waiting for victims to contact them and apply for additional aid. But the city of San Bruno's $380,000 relief fund is another story.

The 35 San Bruno families who lost everything in the fire are spending the holidays somewhere new this year and in this season of giving, many are wondering why the city will not release $380,000 worth of donations intended for the victims.

Nancy Wynschenke's green-tagged house is 550 feet from the explosion site. She has had to fight her insurance company to cover roof repairs. She is frustrated with the way the city is handling the fund.

"They shouldn't be involved with that, that's bureaucracy that's not their place to be involved with," Wynschenke said. "I think the people that donated the money wanted the money to go immediately, directly to the people that need it."

Since October, Councilwoman Irene O'Connell has been overseeing the fund.

"There is no plan yet and I know people are getting anxious about it," she said.

O'Connell says the city did not want to rush to distribute the money, waiting instead to see what PG&E and insurance companies would cover. And there is also the question of how the cash should be divided among different kinds of victims.

"There are some things I think the community would like to see; we've had people talk about a memorial park," O'Connell said.

O'Connell also says she has not heard from anyone who needs help right now.

Pacifica bakery owner Julie Mazzetti and her husband raised $31,000 and gave it to the city's victim fund. She says she is not worried the money has not yet been given out to victims.

"I have confidence in the mayor of San Bruno that he will do the right thing," Mazzetti said.

The council members in charge of the city's fund met Monday afternoon to talk about how to move forward. They are holding a community meeting Jan. 5. Either next week or after Christmas the council will put out flyers in the community, asking blast victims to apply for three seats on a kind of fund commission so they can help decide how to spend the money.

San Bruno victims looking to access the Red Cross fund can call 877-773-7229.


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