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To Do List for Those Who’ve Lost Homes in Thomas Fire

Fire victims who would like help in organizing their neighborhoods to address recovery concerns, such as access to assistance, insurance issues, reconstruction, etc., are invited to contact Operation Recovery at The Malibu Times.

Operation Recovery is made up of individuals whose homes were destroyed in the Malibu fires of 1993. They want to share the experience they gained and the lessons they learned.

For information on creating your own Operation Recovery, call The Malibu Times, 310-456-5507.

For individuals who'd like to speak one-on-one with a Malibu fire survivor, e-mail with your contact information to  [email protected]
Following is a priority list of things to do if your home has burned down in a fire:

» Make your temporary quarters temporary. Staying with family and friends is great, for a little while, but you need to find a home, a private place to regroup and nest.

» Purchase and/or borrow only necessities now, enough to get along for the next few days or weeks; you can make major purchases later.

» Drive carefully. You are stressed and distracted, so take things slowly. Walk, don’t run. When someone else can drive you or your family, have them do so.

» Keep a notebook/paper and pen/pencil with you at all times.

» Take notes on all discussions you have with insurance agents, FEMA representatives and anyone else important. You have too much on your mind to remember all the important information you will hear and need.

» Make lists of possessions you lost. You’ll see things at friends' houses, in stores, catalogues, magazines and newspapers that you had; write them down. The insurance company may require a complete list of the contents of your home.

» Keep all the pieces of paper with your notes together;. You can sort them out later for insurance purposes.

» Write down the things you need and have this list ready when people ask you what you need. They want to give you what you need, not what they think you need.

» Make a note of all gifts received, services rendered; you’ll want it later and you will not remember.

» Do not make any major decisions. Do not sign any contracts.

» Get all the information you need prior to signing any insurance releases or repair agreements. Remember, you are stressed out and vulnerable.

» Ask for professional help in evaluating any major decisions you must make. If someone pressures you to decide quickly, pass.

» Accept help, emotional support and the goods that will be offered. You may be more accustomed to giving than receiving, but now it is your turn to receive. Your friends and family want to give and you need their help. Accept it.

» Take advantage of all programs available to you and your family. Attend the FEMA-sponsored One Stop Shopping events (call 800-621-3362). Arrive early and bring a friend to help. There are many agencies to help and assure you get the help you need in a timely manner.

» Organize. Work with your church, local school or neighborhood association to bring victims together. An organization is invaluable in helping you negotiate with local and state government, insurance companies and other groups. And it will provide support, direction and resources you need to recover. We called ours Operation Recovery.

— Jennifer Goddard for Operation Recovery.

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