Creek Fire: Fresno County leaders plan to use $20 million to help with cleanup

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno County has dedicated $20 million to help Creek Fire victims as they start the process of rebuilding.

The money was approved by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. With winter on the way, there's new concerns about erosion and mudslides as the cleanup begins.

The blackened hillsides, filled with ash and twisted metal from burned homes, haven't been cleared yet after the fury of the Creek Fire.

Taking down torched and unstable trees and removing hazardous materials are only a few of the priorities for federal, state and local officials.

"Easily a thousand properties need to be cleaned up and then you have erosion control that needs to be focused on too," said Supervisor Nathan Magsig. "We've got major areas where we've got mudslides and a lot of this sedimentation can end up in our waterways which can damage our hydroelectric facilities."

The majority of the Creek Fire funding is coming from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Some financial assistance is also coming from the State of California.

"We'll be reimbursed for 94% of what we spend, but we need the ability to spend going forward, to appropriate," said Fresno County Chief Administrative Officer Jean Rousseau.

Fresno County had $15 million available from grants to use for cleanup. County leaders added an additional $5 million as a buffer to cover other costs that the funding will not like continuing to help the 17 families still living in motels.

"The county is going to be at some point taking the ball from the Red Cross, probably this Friday, where we need to be the number one provider of services to a lot of these individuals who've been displaced by fire," said Magsig.

Fresno County leaders are working with state and federal departments to speed up the cleanup process.

Residents who either didn't have insurance or were under-insured will especially need assistance.

But right now many are waiting to hear when the three phase cleanup process will begin.
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