Santa Barbara- S County

Deadline looming to apply for FEMA disaster assistance

Deadline looming to apply for FEMA disaster assistance

MONTECITO, Calif. - The countdown is on to apply for financial help from FEMA if you suffered any damage from the Thomas Fire and the Montecito mudslide. 

Montecito resident Melissa Kidd visited the newly opened Montecito Center to check on the status of her application, just days before the March 16, 2018, deadline. 

Kidd and her family, including a newborn and a toddler, were trapped in her home on Olive Mill Road on Jan. 9 when the hillside came down in Montecito. 

Kidd said she has homeowners insurance, but it is not enough to cover the damage. She said the perception is that all residents in Montecito are wealthy. 

"That's not the case. You have a lot of people in multi-generational homes like ours, where you don't necessarily have those means that people assume you do," Kidd said. "So recovery is sometimes a little harder."

Like many residents, the Kidds are still digging out and taking inventory of what was destroyed, damaged or lost on their property. Her husband's leather workshop was damaged. 

"It's just a lot of tools and inventory and things like that that we want to replace and get him up and running again," she said. 

FEMA representatives are going door to door and are available at the Montecito Center to help families like the Kidd's get back on their feet. 

Jim Grigsby, of FEMA, said he can help fire and flood survivors register for aid and answer any questions they have about the process. 

He also wanted to stress that the financial aid is not a loan. 

"Grants are free money," Grigsby said. "We don't ask for anything to be given back to us. We are here to help with the recovery."

The Santa Barbara Office of Emergency Management is also trying to reach out to residents to find out the status of their properties and get them even more resources. Many people aren't aware that they qualify. 

"There was a woman who came in yesterday whose car was destroyed and she assumed she wasn't eligible for FEMA support and she ended up signing up when she came into the center," said Ben Romo, the Community Recovery and Engagement Coordinator. 

The current number of red-tagged homes in Santa Barbara County from the Thomas Fire and Montecito mudslide is 263. There are 130 yellow tagged homes. Hundreds of homes were destroyed in Ventura. 

If you suffered any damage during the fire or the flood and want to apply for a FEMA grant, you can visit the Montecito Center at 1283 Coast Village Circle in Montecito. 

You can also call FEMA at 1-800-621-3362, or click here to apply online.

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