Third-party administrator urges people to apply to Wildfire Assistance Program
Deadline is Nov. 15, 2019
The Wildfire Assistance Program (WAP) funded by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has distributed more than $18 million to people displaced by the 2017 Northern California wildfires and 2018 Camp fire. The $105 million fund, approved by the judge in PG&E’s Chapter 11 cases, is intended to help those who are either uninsured or need assistance with alternative living expenses or other urgent needs. The independent third-party administrator is urging people displaced by the wildfires to apply before the Nov. 15 deadline.
“The Wildfire Assistance Program was established to help people displaced by the fires with unmet needs, particularly people currently without adequate shelter. We are making claims eligible and payable on a daily basis, and we urge all who can benefit from this assistance to apply as soon as possible,” said Cathy Yanni, the independent third-party administrator overseeing the program and disbursements.
“We are committed to helping wildfire victims and their communities recover and rebuild. While many are on that path, we know others continue to struggle. We appreciate the work of the administrator to ensure this program is reaching the people who need it most,” said Bill Johnson, chief executive officer and president of PG&E.
The Wildfire Assistance Program is separate from the PG&E Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases. Submitting a claim to the program is different than submitting a claim in the bankruptcy cases. Anyone who has submitted a claim in the bankruptcy cases may also submit a claim to the Wildfire Assistance Program.
The deadline to file a Wildfire Assistance Program claim is Nov. 15. More information, including the claim form, is available at www.norcalwildfireassistanceprogram.com. Final payments are expected to be made by the end of the First Quarter 2020. The administrator is actively reviewing claims. As of Oct. 18, the administrator has received nearly 11,500 claims and has made payment on 5,200 eligible claims.
Applicants can request support for “Basic Unmet Needs,” which will provide each qualifying household with $5,000 ($2,500 individually for renters) for needs such as water, food, prescriptions, medical supplies and equipment, infant formula and diapers, personal hygiene items, and transportation fuels beyond what the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) covered in the days immediately following the declared disasters.
Those who receive basic payments may also qualify for a “Supplemental Unmet Needs” payment. These funds will be available, however, only after all basic payments have been issued. The administrator has been empowered to approve supplemental payments for households which currently face extreme or extraordinary circumstances.
To qualify for the payments, applicants’ primary residence must have been within the boundary of either the 2017 Northern California wildfires and 2018 Camp fire at the time of those events. Applicants also must establish proof of identity and certify that they are not requesting payments for an expense already paid for by FEMA.
PG&E is providing $105 million for this fund from the company’s cash reserves and will not seek cost recovery from its customers.