SONOMA COUNTY (KPIX) — People who lost homes in Napa and Sonoma County wildfires had until 5 p.m. Monday to sign up for a federal clean-up program.
Many waited until the very last minute to file their paperwork.
One-by-one, reluctant Sonoma county residents filed into the Right of Entry Processing center at Altamira Elementary School, where they finally agreed to turn their property over to the federal government.
As of 2:30 p.m. more than 4000 people had signed their ROE forms. The goal was 5100 by the end of the day.
“Trying to figure out if it was a good thing or bad thing,” said Kenny Bailey as he turned in his paperwork.
Most didn’t want to be here but they are out of options.
“This is just a necessary evil,” said Jeff Myers, “I would have preferred to work this out with a private contractor. You don’t have anything else so it’s kind of a forced hand.”
Eric Lamoureux with the state’s Office of Emergency Services says signing a right of entry form, which gives FEMA permission to get rid of debris, is the fastest and most efficient way to move on.
“I think a lot of people are anxious,” he said. “They don’t trust government. We’ve seen submittals with Right of Entry forms going up over the last several days which we anticipated with the deadline approaching.”
The goal is 5100 homes and they’re close to hitting it. That will allow FEMA to clear full neighborhoods in one fell swoop.
“We’re really asking for the public’s trust and faith in us that we can move in we can move safely efficiently and be done by early 2018,” said Lamoureux.
As is common with disaster assistance, when one deadline passes, another one looms. The next hurdle for FEMA is getting five victims signed up for Housing Assistance. That deadline is December 11.