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FEMA asks Valley Fire survivors to contact them

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A day after Obama declared the Valley Fire a federal disaster, FEMA was in Lake County asking those who need shelter to contact them. (KGO-TV)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, took an aerial tour of the devastation from the Valley Fire on Wednesday and now that they have declared the area a disaster zone, many are wondering what will happen next.

It has been obvious for more than a week that cleaning up and rebuilding Lake County will be a laborious physical task. There is all the wreckage of burned homes to move and to expedite that, those that lost their homes will be pushing a lot of paper too. FEMA and the California Office of Emergency Services made their point very clear to the public that they need the information and paperwork done in order to get the funds to make the clean-up happen.

DONATIONS: How to help victims of the Valley Fire where you live

There is a new Lake County hotline for updated information on the fire: 1-888-565-2787 You can also call the number to find support if you need help assessing your damage.

It seemed reassuring to have FEMA administrator Craig Fugate in Lake County. He said publicly to the Valley Fire survivors, "Get in contact with us so we can plug you in and find out how to best help you."

The Valley Fire now qualifies as a federal emergency thanks to a declaration from President Barack Obama on Tuesday. The number of burned homes now stands at 1,230. Victims are anywhere and everywhere in Middletown or Lake County.

"Well, we're nomads I guess, at least for the time being," said Hayden Schwinn who lost his house in the fire.

We found Schwinn and Jennifer Nelson at the Middleton Animal Hospital where at least their dogs got new roofs over their heads. We asked Nelson what they need most and what FEMA or the state could do for them. She replied, "Well right now, we need shelter. We need money to get shelter."

"We're looking at everything from hotels to what rental properties may be available, to opening an old resort - the Konocti Harbor Inn - to also maybe putting manufactured housing on the ground," said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Department of Emergency Services.

One message from FEMA is that their assistance goes to the most needy. The most FEMA will pay in cash is $3,200 per household. The average is $7,000.

"Our programs are not going to make people whole. If you lost your home and had no insurance, we will not rebuild your home. Our programs are not designed for that," Fugate said.

So in fire ravaged Middletown, it remains a long road. The cavalry has arrived, but it needs information.

As of Wednesday afternoon, FEMA said that about 100 people had registered, all at one Red Cross center. They say that with proper information, they can transfer money within a day.

Valley Fire victims must register with FEMA in order to get federal disaster assistance.

Click here to find out if you qualify for assistance

You can contact FEMA:
  • Online or from any web-enabled mobile device: DisasterAssistance.gov

  • Smartphone: m.fema.gov

  • Phone: 1-800-621-3362 or TTY: 1-800-462-7585


  • Click here for full coverage on the Valley Fire.
    PHOTOS: ABC7 News reporters at the Valley Fire
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    Valley Firebrush firewildfirefirefirefightersevacuationnapa countysonoma countyfire deatheducationstudentsred crossshelterFEMApresident barack obamabarack obamadisasterMiddletownCobbKelseyvilleCalistogaCalifornia
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