Creek Fire: Sierra communities waiting for FEMA assistance

Friday, October 9, 2020
Creek Fire: Mountain residents, authorities meet to discuss next steps in recovery
Mountain residents in Fresno County dealing with the aftermath of the Creek Fire met with authorities on Thursday.

SIERRA HIGH SCHOOL, Calif. (KFSN) -- Mountain residents in Fresno County are seeking answers as they deal with the aftermath of the Creek Fire.

On Thursday night at Sierra High School, they learned about the next steps in recovery.

Burning is slowing and you'll soon see fewer engines in the mountains. But the work is just beginning for those who lost everything.

Kyle Lee's Shaver Lake home was destroyed.

Now he's rallying for recovery through the nonprofit Rebuild Our Sierra.

"I think the biggest question a lot of us have still is the debris cleanup and if that will be able to be completed before the winter comes. Because I believe a lot of challenges will arise if that is not taken care of," said Kyle.

It's a race against winter weather to clean up piles of ash and burned rubble.

"When the rains come, a lot of that debris is going to wash away. It could contaminate waterways. And a lot of people want to start preparing their lots because they want to rebuild," said Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig.

But for those who were uninsured, there's a holdup.

Fresno County has requested Federal assistance and is waiting on a response from FEMA to assist with debris removal.

"Many people up here in the mountain communities didn't have insurance. And so really they don't have the financial wherewithal to be able to clean up their own properties," Magsig said.

For the time being, an emergency order passed by Fresno County this week will allow residents to live on their properties in tiny homes or trailers for up to a year.

"We miss our mountains. So being able to stay on your property and live on the mountains where you belong is huge," said Kyle.

Supervisor Magsig said a response from FEMA is expected in a matter of days.

Another hot topic tonight was trees that have been cut down by utility companies and left for property owners to deal with.

Supervisor Magsig's office has made itself available to facilitate tree removal from properties.