Beginning August 15, 2019, those displaced by the 2017 Northern California wildfires and 2018 Camp fire can apply for aid through an independently administered Wildfire Assistance Program funded by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). PG&E’s $105 million fund, approved by the judge in PG&E’s Chapter 11 cases, is intended to help those who are either uninsured or need assistance with alternative living expenses or other urgent needs. The court-approved independent administrator is set to file the eligibility criteria as required by the court and will open the application process.
“Our goal is to get the money to those who most need it as quickly as possible. We will prioritize wildfire victims who have urgent needs, including those who are currently without adequate shelter,” said Cathy Yanni, plan administrator. Yanni is partnering with local agencies and community organizations to administer the fund.
“We appreciate the diligent work of the fund administrator in quickly establishing a way to distribute these funds and ensuring the program supports those with the most immediate needs. PG&E is focused on helping those impacted by the devastating wildfires in recent years and strengthening our energy system to prevent utility-caused catastrophic fires. We feel strongly that helping these communities now is the right thing to do,” said Bill Johnson, CEO and President of PG&E Corporation.
Applicants can request a “Basic Unmet Needs” payment of $5,000 per household for victims who establish basic eligibility requirements and self-certify that they have at least $5,000 of unmet needs that have not been compensated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Payments are to support needs such as water, food, prescriptions, medical supplies and equipment, infant formula and diapers, personal hygiene items, and transportation fuels beyond what FEMA covered in the days immediately following the declared disasters.
Those who receive basic payments may also qualify for a “Supplemental Unmet Needs” payment. These funds will be available only after “Basic Unmet Needs” payments have been issued. Supplemental payments will be available to individuals and families who currently face extreme or extraordinary circumstances as compared to others who were impacted by the 2017 and 2018 wildfires.
To qualify for the payments, applicants’ primary residence must have been within the boundary of the 2017 Northern California wildfires or the 2018 Camp fire. Applicants also must establish proof of identity and certify that they are not requesting payments for an expense already paid for by FEMA.
Applicants can find more information and apply for assistance at https://www.norcalwildfireassistanceprogram.com/. The deadline to file for aid is November 15, 2019.
The $105 million being provided by PG&E was made available from the company’s cash reserves. PG&E will not seek cost recovery from its customers.