Highlights Disaster Benefit Programs for California Wildfire Victims

Due to the widespread wildfires in Southern California, President George W. Bush signed a major disaster declaration for the area. These devastating wildfires have caused at least $1 billion in damage in San Diego County alone, and more than 1,500 homes to burn. In addition, more than500,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes; the largest evacuationin state history.

With a signed Federal declaration, individuals, families and businesses are now eligible for temporary housing, funds for home repairs and disaster unemployment assistance. The declaration also funds the restoration of damaged governmental infrastructure including roads, utilities and essential public buildings.

FEMA has put into place a free of charge Family Registry and Locator System to help reunite friends and family. If you have been separated from friends and relatives by the fires in Southern California and need assistance finding them please call FEMA at 1-800-588-9822. is also available with detailed disaster assistance program descriptions and contact information for disaster victims. Below are some of the programs featured on the site. For a complete list of disaster relief programs, use the Benefits Quick Search and select the Disaster Relief category.

Casualities, Disasters, and Theft
The program offers tax relief for casualty losses that result from the destruction of, or damage to your property from any sudden, unexpected, or unusual event such as a flood, hurricane, tornado, fire, earthquake or even volcanic eruption.

Crisis Counseling
The Crisis Counseling program provides immediate crisis counseling services to victims of a major Federally declared disaster for the purpose of relieving mental health problems caused or aggravated by a major disaster or its aftermath. Assistance provided is short-term in nature and provided at no cost to the disaster victims.

Disaster Housing Program
The Disaster Housing Program provides housing assistance in the form of a grant to individuals whose homes sustained damage as a result of a Presidentially declared disaster. To qualify for assistance, the damaged home must be your primary residence, and be located in the disaster-declared area. If insured, a claim should be filed. This program provides grants for lodging expense reimbursement, minimal home repairs and rental assistance.

Disaster Legal Services
The Disaster Legal Services program provides legal assistance to individuals affected by a major Federal disaster.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance
The Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program provides unemployment benefits to individuals who have become unemployed as a result of a Presidentially declared major disaster.