Homeowners Weigh Whether To Let Gov’t Clean Up Fire-Destroyed Homes

SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) — The U.S. Senate has passed and sent to President Trump a $36 billion emergency aid bill that includes money for North Bay fire victims.

Those homeowners who’ve lost everything now face some tough decisions, whether to rebuild and whether to let the government take control of the cleanup.

Do residents let California’s Office of Emergency Services clear all this, for free? Or hire someone to do it on for them?

Federal and local officials want owners of destroyed homes to let the government take control of the cleanup and remove foundations. But there are concerns about government inefficiency and questions on whether they’ll eventually be saddled with a big bill.

There is little left of Santa Rosa resident Nan Cook’s house. But what is left will be a lot of work to remove.

That’s why she and others in the city’s Fountaingrove neighborhood are opting for Cal OES help in demolition and debris removal.

But that call doesn’t come full of confidence. “Oh yeah, because we want to know how much they’ll remove and if some things seem like they’re still stable and seem okay, we hope they stay.

An example is a large rock where Cook’s husband popped the question. “Before this was anything it was just weeds and he proposed right there so that’s special.”

But special as it may be, OES says it has the final say on what stays and what goes, though homeowners will get a heads up.

The cleanup is an enviromental priority. Cal OES says once homeowners turn in their Right of Entry forms which allows the government on their properties, the EPA and the contractors it hires will start the cleanup work soon.

Cal OES says they know people have a lot of questions so they aren’t pressuring people to sign those forms without being comfortable.

“Take your time. Understand the program Understand what you’re signing,” said Shawn Smith with Cal OES. “It’s a voluntary program we want everyone to feel very comfortable.”

Homeowners can attend a town hall meeting on the cleanup plans, Thursday, 6-8 p.m. at Santa Rosa High School.

More from Emily Turner
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