Has your job been hit by the Creek Fire? Here's how to get financial help

Unemployment benefits will be paid retroactive to the day the disaster was declared, which is September 6th for the Creek Fire.

Sara Sandrik Image
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Has your job been hit by wildfires? Here's how to get help
Business owners and employees whose jobs have been impacted by the Creek Fire or the SQF Complex Fire are eligible for unemployment benefits out of a special emergency fund.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The staff at Shaver Lake's Pub N Grub spent hours spraying away the ash and cleaning up the rest of the mess left behind by the Creek Fire.

The freezers are now empty after spoiled food and alcohol bottles topped with pour spouts had to be thrown away.

Owner John Wright estimates the losses at around $10,000 but says it's nothing compared to what many others have endured.

"We've got some friends that live up here, full-timers. Unfortunately, they won't be coming back. The devastation, that hits real close to your heart. A lot of our friends made it through it, a lot lost their houses," says co-owner John Wright.

His employees also lost weeks of wages and tips.

"That was hard. Thankfully we have savings to help with car payments, car insurance, rent, but some people don't have that," says server Allie Maxfield.

That's why Assemblyman Jim Patterson visited the community on Wednesday. He stopped by businesses to hand out flyers and let them know employees and owners are eligible for unemployment benefits.

"The Employment Development Department of the state of California has a special emergency unemployment fund for those who have been out of work because of the fires. So if you were unemployed because of the fires, you qualify. We found that not very many people in the fire districts know much about this," Patterson said.

You can apply online at the EDD website.

The benefits even apply to people who are now back at work to cover the days they missed. But this comes as the EDD is in the midst of a two-week reset period that stopped all new filings September 19th to deal with a backlog of nearly 600,000 unprocessed claims. Patterson says state leaders are working on long-term solutions, but his team is pledging to help fire victims immediately.

"We're going to be pressing to make sure we learn the lessons and fix the problems, but right now we have to do everything we can to effectively process these for people who are deserving," Patterson said.

The benefits are retroactive to the day the disaster was declared, which is September 6th for the Creek Fire.

They will be paid for the duration of the business closure, up to 26 weeks.