The Wildfire Assistance Program, funded by Pacific Gas and Electric Company, has distributed over $25 million to people displaced by the 2017 Northern California wildfires and the 2018 Camp Fire. The $100 million fund, approved by the judge in PG&E’s Chapter 11 cases, is intended to help those who are uninsured or need assistance with alternate living expenses and other urgent needs. The deadline to apply is Friday, November 15, 2019.
“There is still time to file a claim with the Wildfire Assistance Program. This fund was set up to help people displaced by the 2017 and 2018 fires with unmet needs, particularly people currently without adequate shelter. This is especially critical now, as we move into the colder, wetter winter months. We urge people who need this help to apply for assistance by the deadline this Friday,” said Cathy Yanni, the independent third-party administrator overseeing the program and disbursements.
As of Tuesday, November 12, the Wildfire Assistance Program received more than 16,000 claims and the program administrator had paid more than 7,000 claims totaling over $25 million. The majority of the disbursements have been made to people displaced by the Camp Fire, but anyone impacted by the 2017 Northern California wildfires are also eligible for assistance.
Program officials are working with claimants, attorneys, city and county agencies, civic organizations and support groups to help people affected by the wildfires apply for assistance under the program. The Wildfire Assistance Program is separate from the PG&E Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases. Submitting a claim to the assistance program is different than submitting a claim in the bankruptcy cases.
"We remain committed to helping wildfire victims and their communities recover and rebuild. We know that this is a painful process, and that many continue to have unmet needs including the most basic necessities like a safe place to live. We deeply appreciate the work of the administrator to ensure this program is reaching the people who need it most in their time of need," said Bill Johnson, Chief Executive Officer and President of PG&E Corporation.
Anyone who has submitted a claim in the bankruptcy cases may also submit a claim to the Wildfire Assistance Program. Applicants can request support for basic unmet needs, which include providing each qualifying household with $5,000, $2,500 individually for renters, for needs like water, food, prescriptions, medical supplies and equipment, infant formula and diapers, personal hygiene items, and transportation fuels beyond what the Federal Emergency Management Agency covered immediately following the declared disasters.
Those who receive basic payments may also apply for supplemental unmet needs payment. However, the supplemental funds will only be available after all basic payments have been issued. Officials are able to approve supplemental payments for households which currently face extreme or extraordinary circumstances and to qualify for the payments, an applicant’s primary residence must have been within the boundary of the 2017 Northern California wildfires or 2018 Camp Fire at the time of the events.
Applicants are also required to establish proof of identity and certify that they are not requesting payments for an expense already paid for by FEMA. PG&E is providing $100 million for this fund from the company's cash reserves and stated they will not seek cost recovery from customers. Final payments are expected to be made by the end of March 2020. More information is available at www.norcalwildfireassistanceprogram.com.