Federal Response to the California Wildfires

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How do I?
Apply for assistance
Apply for Assistance
Find out what assistance is available to help you recover.
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How do I help?
What you can do to assist those affected by the wildfires.

DHS/FEMA continues to work side-by-side with state officials and other federal partners engaged in the recovery efforts to multiple wildfires burning across Southern California.

What Federal Government is Doing


President Bush has issued a major disaster declaration for California and ordered greater federal aid to supplement state and local response activities in the affected areas. Federal resources began mobilizing as early as Sunday, October 21, and authorized federal funds to reimburse the state for certain costs incurred under FEMA’s Fire Management Assistance Grant Program. Under those grants, FEMA pays for 75 percent of the state’s eligible fire-fighting costs.  Eligible costs include equipment, supplies, and emergency work evacuations, shelters and traffic control. A major disaster declaration for California was granted Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2007, for seven affected California counties (Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura).

FEMA Registration

Mobile Disaster Recovery Centers (MDRC)

Assistance Centers

San Diego County

Rancho Bernardo Glassman Recreation Center at 18446 West Bernardo Drive, Rancho Bernardo.
Hours: Monday- Friday- 8 a.m. - 7 p.m.; Saturday  8 a.m.-4 p.m. Closing December 21.

Ramona Community School at 1710 Montecito Road, Ramona.
Hours: Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Closing December 21.

Fallbrook Community Center at 341 Heald Lane, Fallbrook.
Hours: Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Closing December 21.

Home Inspections

As of Jan. 9, 2008:


FEMA and HHS are providing technical assistance to the state as they develop their grant application.


Safe and Well Total Statistics for San Diego and San Bernardino counties:


Personnel actively engaged in the area of operation:



Center for Disease Control (CDC)



FEMA is urging those who want to help people affected by the fires in California to make cash donations to nonprofit organizations that are active in disaster work. A list of national organizations involved in disasters can be found at www.nvoad.org and at the Network for Good's Web site at www.networkforgood.org.

Officials said that cash donations allow voluntary organizations to both obtain goods and services locally and for some to issue direct financial assistance to victims so they can meet their needs. They also allow agencies to avoid the labor-intensive need to clean, sort, package, label, and store donated goods. Donated money avoids, too, the expense of ground or air transportation that donated goods require.

People who want to help are urged to contact a registered relief organization to see if they can provide assistance through that organization. People going on their own to a disaster site can disrupt life-saving response operations.  A good Web site to find organizations that are working in the disaster can be found at www.helpindisaster.org.

Voluntary organizations provide a wide variety of services after disasters, such as clean up, child care, housing repair, crisis counseling, sheltering and food. To find out what voluntary organizations are working in the impacted areas, and how to direct a cash donation to them, should go online at www.nvoad.org.

You can also donate via telephone to the state of California:

1-800-RED-CROSS (733-2767)- For Individuals/Companies
1-800-750-2858- For Bulk Donations


Volunteering through an organization provides a better chance of insurance and liability protection. There are many tasks to do after a disaster - cleaning up and rebuilding are two of the biggest. Both voluntary agencies and the local government may be aware of opportunities for volunteer labor in the long and difficult recovery phase. Watch the local media carefully to see what volunteer coordination efforts are being organized. Often the Volunteer Center in the area is an excellent source of information about volunteer opportunities after a disaster.

In the immediate disaster response period there are often many people wanting to volunteer at the same time. Remember to be patient. It may not be perfectly clear until a few days after the incident how a volunteer can get involved. There are often greater needs for volunteer help when the community enters the long-term recovery period. Also, note that volunteers should plan to be as self-sufficient as they can be so that they are of little, if any, burden on the disaster-affected community.

Also, before the next disaster strikes, consider getting some disaster training. You will be in a better position to find meaningful volunteer work at the time of a disaster.

Volunteer Agencies

Citizens in the affected area are urged to continue to listen for messages from state and local emergency officials and be aware of evacuation and sheltering orders in their communities.

Recovering from Disaster

Recovering from a disaster is usually a gradual process. Safety is a primary issue, as are mental and physical well-being. The following is general advice on steps to take after disaster strikes in order to begin getting your home, your community, and your life back to normal.

Rebuilding After A Wildfire

Returning to your fire-damaged home will undoubtedly be an emotional experience. But as you go about the task of rebuilding, there are many ways to rebuild safer, stronger, smarter and more resilient to wildfires. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has teamed with Firewise Communities, the Federal Alliance for Safe Housing, and the Institute for Business and Home Safety to provide information about rebuilding after a fire. Strategies for preventing future damage include:

Learn more about rebuilding after a wildfire.

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Last Modified: Monday, 14-Jan-2008 16:28:50 EST