TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Nearly two months after the SQF Complex Fire started, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, added Tulare County to the major disaster declaration for California Wildfires.
It means local government agencies will receive federal dollars to help cover the costs of repairing damaged infrastructure.
And it allows those residents affected by the fire to start applying for funds that will help them recover and possibly rebuild.
"We appreciate all the support from the president, and all of our congressional delegation and our state representatives for assisting us in the process," Tulare County Emergency Services Director Jason Britt said. "And it's a huge win and somewhat of a relief."
"It was not something I was really counting on," said Virginia Carlborg. "I tried everything. Even my mother was writing to FEMA."
Carlborg and her husband lost their scenic Alpine Village home in mid-September.
She has already applied for federal assistance, which includes a low-interest loan from the Small Business Administration.
The SBA disaster loan is available to Tulare County home and business owners who had property damaged in the blaze.
All forms of federal relief have an application deadline of November 23rd.
"We want to encourage everyone impacted by the fire to register whether or not you think you might need assistance," Britt said. "Because if you find out after November 23rd that you need assistance, you will likely not be eligible."
Separately, Britt says the county is working with federal and state partners on a private property debris removal program.
Until the details are finalized, he encourages property owners to not do any cleanup work on their own - it's dangerous and starting the process now could make someone ineligible for the program.
Virginia was finally able to see the ruins of her former home last weekend.
But she has high hopes of having a new home here, knowing Tulare County now has the financial backing of the federal government
"It's just amazing," she said. "It's going to be a long road from here. We're not done. Obviously we're not even begun. But the light is brighter at the end of the tunnel now."
More resources for residents affected by the SQF Complex are available at the following links:
US Small Business Association's Disaster Loan Assistance
Other resources on the SBA website
California Office of Emergency Services website
Residents affected by SQF Complex Fire have 1 month to apply for federal relief