“Obviously that’s the worst-hit area out of the entire state,” said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Dolph Diemont. “More homes were lost, more people displaced, and more pain from those wildfires.”
This week, over 200 workers with FEMA hit the ground in the Rogue Valley doing damage assessments. “The actual joint, preliminary damage assessments we call them, are being conducted as we speak,” Diemont said.
Eight Oregon counties were declared an emergency disaster on September 15. Since then, FEMA has had almost 5,600 registrations so far, 46 percent of them are from Jackson County.
FEMA said the agency is continuing to push people to register so no one falls through the cracks. “If they feel as though they’re being denied, it’s not over yet. We have people that can actually answer their questions and help them through the process.”
“If there’s any documentation missing or something else required,” said Diemont, “they’ll receive that letter with an explanation on what the next steps are.”
Over $12 million is going to help Oregon homeowners and renters affected by wildfires. The agency’s Individual and Households Program can include grants for repairs for people to make their primary home habitable and pay for temporary housing.
“We assess the area and see what kind of rental properties are available, or hotel space or apartment complexes,” Diemont said. If there’s a lack of available housing, FEMA said local governments can authorize the use of temporary housing units.
“We’ll start looking at placing temporary housing units, mobile homes, on their property so they can live in that unit while they’re rebuilding their home,” said Diemont. “If needed or deemed necessary, the last option really is to develop a group site where you have those FEMA mobiles in a trailer park setting.”
FEMA assistance can also help with other disaster-related needs like replacing essential household items and medical, dental, funeral, transportation, moving, storage and childcare expenses.
“We’re gonna do everything we can to make sure people are comfortable in the interim,” Diemont said, “in a safe, clean living condition to the extent that we can help.”
The process for assistance begins with registering. You can do that at disasterassitance.gov or on the mobile FEMA app. You can also call 1-800-621-3362.
Nicole Costantino is a reporter and weather forecaster for NBC5 News. She comes to us from Phoenix, Arizona where she graduated from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She also received a minor in Meteorology.
Before coming to NBC5 News Nicole was an anchor, weather forecaster and reporter at KAET in Phoenix, AZ. In college, she interned for CBS Evening News in New York City and the NBC4 Investigative Team in Los Angeles.
In her free time, you can find Nicole cheering on her Sun Devils and exploring the Pacific Northwest. Feel free to send story ideas and chocolate chip cookie recipes to her on Facebook (@NicoleCostantino) or Twitter (@NicCostantino).