SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) — One month after the wine country wildfires devastated whole neighborhoods in Napa and Sonoma counties, homeowners who lost everything are faced with a tough choice: let the government clean their property or do it themselves.
“Right of entry” forms that allow clean up by government crews must be turned in by Thursday in Napa County.
The deadline for Sonoma County is November 13th, but there has already been talk of a deadline extension.
It only took a few hours for their homes to burn down and they were only given two weeks to decide how to clean up what remains.
“I think putting the deadline at the 13th is a huge mistake, because there are a lot of people who aren’t going to be able to make that decision that fast,” said Dustin Davis with Davis Demolition.
While the deadline to submit a right of entry form for public debris removal is Monday, the information that would help people make that decision hasn’t been easy to come by for some homeowners.
“We’ve never been in this situation and to make a thoughtful decision takes facts and we didn’t have all the knowledge or facts. So how can you make the right choice if you don’t know all the pieces of what to do?” asked one home owner.
The guidelines came out just three days ago for those in Sonoma County using private companies to clear debris. But waste disposal options and specific standards of clean up are still unclear.
The city of Santa Rosa doesn’t even have that in place yet. And thanks to the Veterans Day holiday on Friday, county offices will only open be open two days before the Army Corp of Engineers clean up deadline hits.
Private contractors say that’s not enough time for homeowners to get the information they need.
“Every homeowner we’ve talked to — unless they have a major insurance policy — is in a panic because they have this deadline over their head. And they don’t have the time or the education to figure out what they need,” said Diana Boley with All County Debris Removal.
With a line out the door at the right of entry office and plenty of other homeowners weighed down by a pile of paperwork and unanswered questions.
The longer they go unanswered, the closer some Sonoma County supervisors are to considering an extension.
“I’m getting texts right now from state senators and Cal OES directors saying, Please don’t change the deadline,” said Sonoma County Supervisor Jim Gore. “But I could care less about my friends who don’t want us to extend the deadline, if it means we are the example of bad government.”
For those who decide not to use the public clean-up option, those homeowners have until November 22nd, though officials say that date could change if the current ROE deadlines end up getting pushed back.