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Victims of Wildfires Have 30 Days to Apply for Federal-State Assistance

Homeowners, renters and business owners — with or without insurance — can register until Jan. 20.

California homeowners, renters and business owners who suffered damages in the November wildfires, including Santa Barbara County’s Tea Fire, have only one month left to apply for disaster assistance, state and federal officials said.

“Jan. 20, 2009, is the last day applications will be accepted for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Individual Assistance program,” said Mark Neveau, federal coordinating officer.

Loan applications to the U.S. Small Business Administration for disaster-related losses to real and personal property must be submitted by Jan. 21.

Federal and state disaster recovery officials urge those who have not applied to do so as soon as possible by calling the toll-free application and help number, 800.621.3362 (TTY users can call 800.462.7585), or register online at www.fema.gov.

After the Jan. 20 application deadline, FEMA’s toll-free phone lines still will be available to help people who already have registered.

“Even if you have insurance and believe all your losses are covered, we urge you to register if you’ve had wildfire damages,” said Tom Maruyama, deputy state coordinating officer. “If you find some losses weren’t covered, it will be too late to apply for federal-state assistance after Jan. 20, 2009.”

Richard O’Reilly is an assistant external affairs officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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