How do I register for benefits and federal assistance?
Fire Recovery Guide: U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, has put out a 16-page guide for fire victim benefits and assistance.
Santa Cruz County Human Services benefits hotline: 1-888-421-8080. Residents impacted by the fire who are enrolled in benefits programs may be eligible for replacement benefits.
Evacuees may be eligible for CalFresh (formerly known as food stamps.) Apply at calfresh.org or mybenefitscalwin.org. Apply by phone at 1-888-421-8080 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. Information is at santacruzhumanservices.org.
Federal assistance for individuals and businesses: Santa Cruz County residents affected by the wildfire may be eligible for temporary and permanent housing, crisis counseling, disaster unemployment assistance and other help. Register at DisasterAssistance.gov. Registration for federal assistance is here in Spanish. Call 1-800-621-3362 for help or questions. Registration can also be done on the FEMA mobile app.
- Note: The deadline to apply for $500 in emergency cash assistance has been extended to Sept. 12. U.S. citizenship is not required. Register at DisasterAssistance.gov. For help, speak to a federal representative 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday Sept. 8 at the Paradox Hotel, 611 Ocean St. in Santa Cruz, or 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily at the Recovery Resource Center at Kaiser Permanente Arena, 140 Front St. in Santa Cruz.
Small Business Administration Loans: Federal disaster loans homeowners, renters, businesses and private nonprofits. Register at disasterloanassistance.sba.gov. Disaster No.
CA-00325. Staff is available at FOCWAssistance@sba.gov or
800-659-2955. Open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EDT daily.
Recovery Resource Center: A one-stop shop for help that ranges from federal benefits registration to grocery money. The event is open daily 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Kaiser Permanente Arena, 140 Front St., Santa Cruz.
- Information will include details on rebuilding, debris, utilities, insurance, social services and replacement documents.
- Free two-hour parking will be provided.
- Information at the in-person event also is online.
How do I get help with home insurance and claims?
- Fire victims should read the California Department of Insurance’s Top 10 tips for wildfire claimants. Find your insurance policy, track expenses, document every conversation with your insurance company and have a licensed contractor estimate home rebuilding costs.
- The state department of insurance’s hotline at 800-927-4357 helps residents go through the insurance process. The department’s staff advocates for residents as they deal with insurance companies.
- Some insurance companies will not allow renewals. The state department of insurance offers an insurance finder tool and Top 10 tips for finding residential insurance. The list includes how to file a complaint, and how to apply for the California FAIR plan, an insurer of last resort.
- 🎧 Listen to a Sept. 8 town hall with State Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara or 📰 read the transcript here.
Returning evacuees: Home safety checklists, how to clean ash, where to get protective equipment, debris removal
Checklist of rebuilding steps: From Santa Cruz County, including damage assessments, insurance and FEMA claims, applications to county assessor’s office.
Debris removal, frequently asked questions: From Santa Cruz County.
Protective equipment is required when accessing fire-damaged properties. Debris removal of fire-damaged residential materials requires written authorization from county officials, according to a Sept. 4 news release from the county. Use of heavy equipment on properties also requires approval from officials. Visit the county’s Fire Resources page for information.
Free “repopulation kits” with protective equipment and information are available at: Beauregard Vineyards, 10 Pine Flat Rd., Bonny Doon, Santa Cruz Waldorf School, 2190 Empire Grade, Santa Cruz, and Felton Covered Bridge Park, Graham Hill Road at Mount Hermon Road, Felton.
Debris removal process: Visit the county’s debris removal webpage for information in English and Spanish.
When evacuation orders are lifted for your home, Cal Fire officials advise the following safety checklist:
- Check grounds for hot spots, smoldering stumps, and vegetation.
- Use extreme caution around trees, power poles and other tall objects or structures that may have been weakened by fire. Trees with deep charring are weakened. Smoldering holes in the ground can be full of hot coals and white ash. This is evidence of hot material and should be avoided.
- Before inspecting your home, check for the smell of gas. Use a battery-powered flashlight to inspect a damaged home. Check for hot embers in rain gutters, on the roof, under overhangs, under decks and crawl spaces. Be sure your wood and debris piles are not hiding any embers. Check for embers in the attic which may have entered through vents.
- Turn off all appliances and make sure the meter is not damaged before turning on the main circuit breaker. If the electric meter has any visible damage, do not attempt to turn on the breaker. If there are electrical wires on the ground, stay clear and contact your local utility company immediately.
- Do not drink water from the faucet until emergency officials say it is OK. Water supply systems can be damaged and become polluted during wildfires. Check the well or pump-house to ensure it is in working order.
- Discard any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke, flood waters, or soot. Discard items in your fridge.
- If you have a propane tank or natural gas, leave valves closed until the supplier or utilities can inspect your system. If your propane or utility services have any visible damage to the gas meter, gas lines or propane tank, do not attempt to repair. Call your local propane company or utility.
- If you have a heating oil tank system, contact a heating oil supplier for an inspection of your system before you use it.
- If you have a solar electrical system, this system should be inspected by a licensed technician to verify that the solar panels and electrical wiring are safe.
- Call 911 if any danger is perceived.
- Consult local experts on the best way to restore and plant your land with fire-safe landscaping.
- More tips at readyforwildfire.org
Electric and gas safety checklist from PG&E:
- Check for damaged household electrical wiring and turn off the power at the main electric switch if you suspect any damage and consult with an electrician.
- Unplug or turn off all electric appliances to avoid overloading circuits and fire hazards when power is restored. Simply leave a single lamp on to alert you when power returns. Turn your appliances back on one at a time when conditions return to normal.
- If you see downed power lines near your home, treat them as if they are “live” or energized. Keep yourself and others away from them. Call 911, then notify PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.
- If you or someone else shut off the gas during the evacuation, DO NOT turn it back on. Contact PG&E or another qualified professional to perform a safety inspection before the gas service is restored and the gas appliance pilots are re-lit.
- If you smell the distinctive “rotten egg” odor of natural gas in or around your home or business you should immediately call 911 and then PG&E at 1-800-743-5000. More safety tips on PGE&E’s website.
Protect yourself from ash fact sheet from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Tips on how to clean your home and protect your lungs.
Information on produce/food safety and soil testing after a wildfire:
Interactive Maps: Fire, damage, aircraft
- Official Cal Fire map of fire, evacuation zone, evacuation warning
- Official Santa Cruz County Damage Assessment map
- Cal Topo fire map by Matt Jacobs with unconfirmed street level damage data
- MappingSupport.com GIS fire map by Joseph Elfelt. More info.
- National Interagency Fire Center fire map
- NASA Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS) fire map
- Aircraft map by FlightRadar24
- Official Santa Cruz County Damage Assessment Map: This map is continually updated.
- Cal Topo fire map by Matt Jacobs. Time-stamped satellite fire data. Yellow crosshatched areas show unconfirmed damage at street level. Also shows wind velocity. More info.
- MappingSupport.com Geographic Information System fire map by Joseph Elfelt. More info.
- Official Cal Fire fire map by Zonehaven. Includes fire area, areas of mandatory evacuation and evacuation warning.
- Evacuation map – The red outline indicates areas where residents must evacuate. The yellow outline shows areas that have received a warning. Map posted at tinyurl.com/storymapCZU.
Official fire and evacuation info, unofficial resource pages
Cal Fire email updates: tinyurl.com/czulightning
Cal Fire CZU August Lightning Complex fire fact: Updates
Sign up for Nixle alerts: Sign up for text, email or voice mail alerts from local law enforcement agencies. These alerts include evacuation orders and warnings, and the end of evacuation orders.
CalFire public information line for CZU August Lightning Complex fires: 831-335-6717
Santa Cruz Regional 911 text and email updates: Sign up for CodeRed.
County of Santa Cruz resources page for evacuees: Information in English and Spanish.
City of Scotts Valley resources page for evacuees: Information on shelter, evacuation notices, property retrieval.
UC Santa Cruz: Official campus status
Social media: Authorities announce evacuation orders, breaking news and other information at these Twitter accounts:
- Cal Fire San Mateo-Santa Cruz Unit (Cal Fire CZU)
- County of Santa Cruz
- California Highway Patrol Santa Cruz Area
Search for official and unofficial information, images and tips on the CZU August Lightning Complex Fire at the following hashtags:
- #CZULightningComplex Cal Fire’s preferred hashtag
- #CZULightningComplexFire Trended statewide
- @sbaxter_sc Twitter handle for Santa Cruz Local Editor Stephen Baxter. Frequent news updates, no login required.
- @theSCLocal Twitter handle for Santa Cruz Local. No login required.
Other Santa Cruz County wildfire resource pages
Evacuees: How to find shelter, hotel rooms, food, supplies
- Visit Santa Cruz County has a regional hotel availability list that is updated hourly. Visit San Jose also has a hotel availability list.
- No-cost shelter may be available through Airbnb. Registration and information here.
- Free hotel rooms throughout the Bay Area are available for evacuees. Proof of residency is required. Hotels may allow for pets, but check first. Transportation and food may be available. To register, visit one of the official county shelters here to get an application.
- To register online for hotel vouchers: CZU Lightning Fire Complex evacuees not yet placed at a hotel can submit an initial, first time application for the hotel program here.
- CZU Lightning Fire Complex evacuees already placed at a hotel may request a renewal of their seven-day reservation here if they are within 24 hours of their reservation’s check-out date.
- Applications should not be submitted more than once, according to county officials. Evacuees who submit multiple applications risks being rejected from the state program. Once your evacuation order is lifted, you will be required to check out of your hotel the following morning even if your seven-day reservation has not expired. You must check out of your hotel once you are able to return home, according to a statement from county officials.
- The American Red Cross Northern California Coastal Region may be able to help with hotel vouchers. Call 1-800-733-2767.
- A Santa Cruz church network has a public spreadsheet with a list of people and churches offering places to stay.
- For those unable to secure alternative accommodations: Santa Cruz County has a list of official county shelters. The list is updated frequently with availability.
Shelters are open to county residents. Pets are welcome under the owner’s control and preferably with a pet carrier. Behavioral health specialists will be on site for support.
Lift Line provides transportation to shelters and other safe locations. Call 831-688-9663.
What to bring to evacuee shelters
The American Red Cross advises evacuees to “grab your loved ones and get out of harm’s way.” If there is time to pack, bring:
- Your child’s stuffed animal
- Your child’s blanket or other “lovey”
- Emergency kit or “go bag”
Do not bring: Alcohol, illegal drugs or weapons
County of Santa Cruz resources page for evacuees: Information in English and Spanish.
American Red Cross accommodation assistance for evacuees: 1-866-272-2237.
- Food (snacks at a minimum) is available for evacuees at every county-sponsored shelter.
- Evacuees may be eligible for CalFresh (formerly known as food stamps.) Apply at calfresh.org or mybenefitscalwin.org. Apply by phone at 1-888-421-8080 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. Information is at santacruzhumanservices.org.
- Packaged meals are available for evacuees at 12 p.m. daily at the Recovery Resource Center at Kaiser Permanente Arena, 140 Front St., Santa Cruz. The meals are from local participating restaurants, including My Mom’s Mole, Woodstock Pizza, Barceloneta, Rogue Pye, Half Moon Bay Brewing, Kickin’ Chicken, Full Steam Dumpling, Feel Good Foods and Hanloh Thai Foods.
Evacuees: How to get your mail
As of Monday Aug. 31, the following stations have reopened. Mail that was held at alternative pick up locations will be made available once again at the regular stations. The Davenport Post Office remains impacted by power outages and will not be available for retail services until power is restored.
|Felton||6101 Gushee St., Felton, CA 95018|
|Mt. Hermon||41 Conference Dr., Mt Hermon, CA 95041|
|Ben Lomond||250 Main St., Ben Lomond, CA 95005|
|Davenport Post Office*||500 Highway 1, Davenport, CA 95017|
|Scotts Valley Post Office||241 King Village Rd., Scotts Valley, CA 95066|
Other offices still remain closed in the area. Customers impacted by these closures are being directed to the following alternative mail pick-up locations. Customers retrieving mail at these sites are instructed to provide photo ID for mail pick up.
Customers normally served by the following offices are directed to go to the Watsonville Post Office 225 Main St, Watsonville, CA 95076. Hours for pick-up only Mon-Fri 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
|Boulder Creek||200 Lorenzo St., Boulder Creek, CA 95006|
Customers normally served by the following offices are directed to go to the Ben Lomond Post Office, 250 Main St., Ben Lomond, CA 95005. Hours for pick-up only Mon-Fri 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
|Brookdale||105 Pacific St., Brookdale, CA 95007|
How can I help and donate?
- Non-perishable Food donations may be brought to Second Harvest Food Bank.
HIGH-NEED ITEMS (NEW ONLY)
- Men’s clothing – pants, t-shirts, shoes, socks, underwear, hoodies, sweatshirts and sweat pants
- Women’s clothing – pants, t-shirts, shoes, socks, underwear, hoodies, sweatshirts and sweat pants
- Bath and hand towels
- Bed sheets/linens – queen-sized and smaller
- Sleeping pads
- Pillow cases
- Ice chests, coolers
- Drop-off sites: Santa Cruz County Warehouse, 1082 Emeline, Santa Cruz. Warehouse open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Saturday.
- South County Donation Site, 114 Walker St., Watsonville. Site open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Saturday.
- UC Santa Cruz has posted a “how to help” page with details on how to give in-kind donations such as clothing, linens and toiletries to students in need.
- Cal Fire staff have requested that people do not bring donations to their stations.
- The Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County is recruiting volunteers to staff local emergency shelters. Sign up here or call 831-427-5070. Those unable to help in a shelter but interested in supporting in other ways can sign up for the Fire Relief Volunteer Registry to get alerts about other opportunities.
- The Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County has set up a fund where tax deductible donations go to nonprofit organizations “directly assisting individuals to meet needs as they arise.”
- Davenport Resource Service Center distributes food and provides health resources.
- Valley Churches United provides a food pantry and serves residents in San Lorenzo Valley, Scotts Valley, and Bonny Doon.
- Mountain Community Resources provides food, health services and counseling in San Lorenzo Valley and Scotts Valley.
- UC Santa Cruz – How to give help
- UC Santa Cruz: Fund for students, staff and faculty who lost homes to fire.
What do I pack in my “go bag” for evacuation?
- Face masks
- Three-day supply of non-perishable food, three gallons of water per person, pet food and water for pet.
- Supplies: flashlight, first aid kit, medications, eyeglasses, battery-operated or crank radio, tools, clothing, sanitary supplies, cash in small denominations, contact information, a print map for alternate routes, chargers for cell phones, laptops, other devices.
- Documents: insurance policies, identification, pictures, irreplaceable memorabilia
- Cash, credit and ATM cards
- Medical equipment
- More items here
I’m worried about a loved one. How do I check if they’re safe and well?
The Santa Cruz County Emergency Operations Center has opened a temporary medical clinic for evacuees at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds, 2601 E. Lake Ave. in Watsonville. For emergencies, call 911.
Evacuees who need prescriptions filled: Chain pharmacies (such as Walgreens) can transfer prescriptions to other branches so medications can be picked up outside the evacuation zone.