Hundreds of fire victims look for FEMA help at Chico Mall

CHICO, Calif. (KGO) -- The process of rebuilding and recovery for Camp Fire victims is in its beginning stages. FEMA has set up a location at the Chico mall where fire victims can get federal aid.

FEMA turned a portion of the Chico mall into a disaster recovery center for those looking for federal help. The need is so great that the wait times have been too long for some.

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"It's been hours, there are some people who have been waiting in here since they opened at nine this morning," said Stacey Akin of Paradise.

Akin just found out that she is one of the thousands who lost everything. She's grateful to have been able to escape her Paradise home as she requires a walker.

"My neighbor, thank God, came and woke me up, I was sleeping," Akin said.

With so many traumatizing experiences, crisis counselors and comfort dogs are working to keep victims in good spirits.

The process of getting aid can be overwhelming but once approved, victims will get funding for temporary housing.

"We give them a check, deposit it into their account that they can use to rent while they're waiting to rebuild and get back into their home," said Kevin Hanes, FEMA's deputy federal coordinating officer.

One woman decided to come here in person after her initial online application was ruled ineligible.

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"I just want to get the word out to the rest of my community, if this happens to you, there are some resources available to you, you just got to take some extra steps," said Susie Banning, who lost two homes in the Camp Fire.

Banning's second attempt at obtaining federal funds was approved.

The Chico FEMA site will be open daily in the coming weeks from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

See more stories, photos and videos on the Camp Fire in Butte County.
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