FEMA assistance for dozens of North Bay fire victims expected to end soon

Saturday, May 4, 2019
FEMA money running out for North Bay firestorm victims
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FEMA assistance for dozens of North Bay wildfire victims expected to end on May 10.

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- We've done plenty of stories about the homeless in and around Northern California.

So, here's a different twist. People who might very well be on the cusp. They are North Bay Fire victims who have yet to get it together, and their FEMA money is about to run out.

To be blunt, this is a limbo zone. A place with all the comforts of home they can muster. The Sonoma County Fairgrounds, where if a trailer has a redwood staircase, It belongs to FEMA. And inside, your last remaining victims of the Sonoma County Firestorm.

"Who's fault is it that you are here?," I asked Stacey Gonzales, a North Bay Fire victim. "Uhm," she replied.

Her daughter, Angela Perez, says "She is getting older and I can't have her on the streets."

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But that is a possibility, now, because after extending deadlines, FEMA has set May 10 as the end of assistance.

The 34 fire victims and former renters who remain in trailer parks over here, may need it, the most.

Gonzales says she cannot work because of child care while living on 500 dollars a month of tribal assistance.

"I am trying to find her a place she can afford," Perez said.

Amy Jacobs is disabled, was homeless, living in a tent before the fire.

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"So, this is a major step for you?," I asked Jacobs. "Major," she said.

Dylan Davenport is 27 years old, and can't find a job.

"Should FEMA keep paying you money?," I asked. "I would love that. Definitely, love that," he said.

But it's not likely.

Many on the FEMA assistance bubble have other issues; a housing shortage and higher rents pricing them out.

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Mary Watts works with the Community Action Partnership, which is doing what it can to help. "Since March, we have helped 599 families," she said.

In Sonoma County, they hear the ticking clock. "I don't feel it was my fault because I am doing everything I could," Gonzales said.

We spoke with FEMA on Thursday. They said there is a safety net below this one, through California's Office of Emergency Services and local agencies.

Most of the people we spoke with had no clue that such options exist. They are expecting the worst.