Two important dates to remember Oct. 15 and Oct. 25 — that’s the primary message that Dennis Schmidt, director of the Disaster Recovery Operations Center, brought to the Plumas County Board of Supervisors during its Oct. 12 meeting.
Oct. 15 is the desired date to submit a Right of Entry form (ROE) for those whose property was damaged during the Dixie Fire, and Oct. 25 is the date to register for FEMA. The latter provides a variety of opportunities for people impacted by the fire.
As of the meeting, Schmidt said that 430 ROEs had been submitted and 237 of those were completed and sent to the state. “We want to see it up to 600 by the end of the week,” Schmidt said. (While the preferred date is Oct. 15 so that Phase 2 cleanup can begin before the onset of winter, the hard and fast deadline is Nov. 15.)
Schmidt said that the ROE also applies to properties without structures. He said that individuals who own property with damaged trees, could have those removed at no cost to the property owner if they threaten the public. “Once the trees are dead, they come down really fast,” Schmidt said.
As to how many properties could be eligible for an ROE, Schmidt said they don’t know the full extent yet, but know that there are 1,000 properties that had structures on them.
Schmidt said that the state is gearing up for the cleanup, which includes amassing the heavy equipment needed, but as many properties as possible must be ready for the work to begin.
As for FEMA support, 692 individuals have registered thus far, with $2.7 million scheduled to be disbursed. Schmidt encourages people to call 1-800-621-3363 to register. Again, registration closes Oct. 25.
Schmidt touched on other items: a temporary housing area has been set up in Quincy for personnel assigned to the cleanup and recovery effort; trailer housing for displaced residents is still under review; a temporary fire structure has been erected in Greenville; and a watershed response is being established. This year’s storms could bring twice as much runoff as usual due to the ravaged terrain.
Also, the recovery center is adding more staff to offset the impact on Plumas County staff. And Schmidt reminded the supervisors that this will be a three to five year recovery process.
District 2 Supervisor Kevin Goss, who lives in the Greenville area, focused on the temporary housing for displaced residents. “It just snowed yesterday; and now we are expecting torrential rain in 10 days,” Goss said. “If FEMA doesn’t approve this letter (request for housing) then what?” Goss said he heard that CalOES would step in and bring in some trailers. “Time is of the essence,” he said.
While FEMA would provide monetary assistance to find housing, Goss said that isn’t a solution for residents who have nowhere to go. (Meg Upton, a Plumas News reporter based in Greenville is following up on the housing issue today.)
District 3 Supervisor Sherrie Thrall was focused on the Chester cemetery, which is in her district. Portions of the cemetery burned in the Dixie Fire. “What help are we giving to the cemetery district in Chester?” she asked. “We have a number of burials that need to take place.”
Both Schmidt and County Administrator Gabriel Hydrick said the situation was being addressed.