El Dorado County Residents Deserve FEMA Individual Assistance
Dear President Biden,
In August 2021, the community of Grizzly Flats and areas surrounding Lake Tahoe in El Dorado County were brought to destruction by the Caldor Fire. Hundreds of young families, seniors, and people from all walks of life lost their homes. Nearly 40% of these families did not have homeowners insurance or were underinsured for a catastrophic event like the Caldor Fire due to the exorbitant cost of fire insurance in our region.
You visited the Caldor Fire area on September 13, 2021 and met with El Dorado County’s Chief Administrative Officer that same day at Mather Air Force Base. You assured him that the people affected by the Caldor Fire would receive assistance.
On October 8, 2021 El Dorado County was denied FEMA Individual Assistance. After many calls for help and several letters for assistance from our state and federal elected representatives, our pleas for help have gone unanswered. FEMA has denied Individual Assistance to the people of El Dorado County. All appeals to this decision have also been denied. After the Camp Fire in 2020, FEMA also denied Individual Assistance to that devastated community. It took the then-sitting president to overturn FEMA’s decision and allow the funding necessary to rebuild their homes. We believe El Dorado County deserves no less than the assistance provided to other areas that so desperately needed help.
Also of note, cabins built on United States Forest Service (USFS) lands are being denied the funds needed for clean-up of their sites. Previously, clean-up of fires on USFS lands have been paid for using federal funds. A new interpretation of the Stafford Act has been cited as a reason to withhold funds for those cabin owners who, on average, will be paying more than $50,000 to clean up a site that has no guarantee of being allowed to re-build, regardless of their insurance coverage. We feel this interpretation is not correct and ask for the assistance needed to also help those homeowners.
The Caldor fire – the 15th largest ever in California history— burned 221,775 acres, forced the evacuation of more than 50,000 Californians, and destroyed over 1,000 structures, most of which were homes. This devastation is particularly tragic as El Dorado County has a higher-than-average percentage of seniors and many of those who lost their homes live on limited incomes. Many hard-working families with children and many senior citizens are homeless, living in tents or cars, sleeping on friends’ and family members’ couches, or if they are fortunate enough, in recreational vehicles.
We want to thank you, Mr. President, for declaring a Major Disaster and the assistance FEMA has provided to our local government jurisdictions to assist with rebuilding our infrastructure.
You are our last hope – the only person who can help relieve the pain of the survivors of this terrible and tragic event. Individual Assistance was granted to the people affected by fires in Colorado and hurricanes in Kentucky. The people of El Dorado County humbly ask for the same assistance.
Thank you for your consideration of this issue.