What’s Next: Recovering From the California Wildfires

Where to go for immediate assistance and what to do if your home is damaged.

The California wildfires have destroyed communities; ravaging thousands of acres and leaving many displaced from their homes. If you’re among those affected, you’re probably wondering what to do next and have a lot of questions. We’ve compiled a list of helpful resources, next steps, and information for immediate assistance.

Where to go for Immediate Assistance

Governor Brown announced a state of emergency the past few days for the following counties: Santa Barbara, San Diego, Ventura, and Los Angeles in Southern California. It’s recommended that residents seek shelter and evacuate the area immediately if they haven’t already.

Local aid stations by county:

Santa Barbara County:

Ventura County:

Los Angeles County:

San Diego County:


When is it Safe to Return Home?

Most residents won’t be able to return home after the fire(s) are contained, roads are re-opened, and the mandatory evacuation area decrees are lifted. All information on the status of fires, roads, and evacuation areas can be found here.

When you do return home, be aware of these potential hazards:

  • Check the ground for hot spots and carry a bucket of water to extinguish.
  • Examine the outside of your home before re-entering, look for any sparks, embers, or structural issues.
  • If you are unsure or uneasy about the status of your home call the local non-emergency number.
  • A complete list of wildfire hazards can be found here.

When is it Safe to Return to Work or School?

Updates for local schools resuming operation can be found on each county’s official website:

Updates for your company re-opening will need to be gathered from your management or HR department.

What if My Home is Damaged or Destroyed?

If your home has been damaged, be sure to complete these steps:

  1. Document all damages with photos and also keep a written list.
  2. Contact your insurance company to file your claim ASAP.
  3. When the adjuster arrives, make sure all damages are noted in detail by them.
  4. Re-contact your insurance for do’s and don’ts, next steps, and a better understanding of your coverage.
  5. Follow-up often and make sure you understand the process 100%.

What Comes Next?

If your home has been damaged beyond repair, there may be an option available to help you rebuild your home.

The FHA 203(h) program helps victims obtain new mortgages to purchase or rebuild a Single-Family Property.  Home Owners or Buyers living in Presidentially–declared disaster areas may qualify for this program and can apply within one year of their disaster. The FHA 203(h) mortgage program helps people re-achieve their dream of homeownership.

Program Highlights:

  • 0% down payment options available
  • FICO scores as low as 580
  • Late payment post-disaster forgiveness

Contact an On Q Financial Mortgage Consultant so we can help you.


About the Author

Before opening On Q Financial in 2005, John Bergman originated and funded 450 units a year as a loan officer. He founded the company with just $1M of personal life savings—committed to his vision for building the best independent mortgage organization in the industry.

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