‘Document everything’: FEMA on returning home after a wildfire

Wildfires

Those impacted by the wildfires can apply for assistance

OREGON CITY, Ore. (KOIN) — As fire crews make progress on containing the wildfires across the state that means some families can go home. With some evacuation orders reduced, what should you do when you’re allowed to return home?

Riverside fire officials said, if you are given the okay to go home, be aware of rocks, trees, and other debris in the road. When you get home and the gas is off, do not turn it back on. The gas company will do it for customers when it is safe.

The Dunns had to evacuate their Colton home on September 8. Brooke Dunn’s husband, Daniel, is a volunteer firefighter at Colton Fire, and after they evacuated, Daniel “went straight out again to fight the fires.” Recently, they learned they home was placed under a Level 2 evacuation zone, allowing them to return.

“Our home did not catch fire, but there is a lot of smoke damage,” said Brooke. She said she’s already called their insurance company. “Somebody is going to come out and go through our entire place, and our home, and our property.”

KOIN 6 News spoke with Federal Emergency Management Agency officials on Sunday about what residents should do when they are allowed to go back home after a wildfire.

“Make sure it’s safe to go back to your home, make sure when you enter it’s a safe environment, and if you have damage and need to make repairs, document everything and keep your receipts,” said Lynn Kimbrough with FEMA External Affairs.

Those impacted by the wildfires in Clackamas, Marion, Linn and Lincoln Counties can apply for assistance.

“Everyone’s situation will be different. What we would like people to know as they return home is that if you’ve been impacted by these wildfires, we would ask that you call and apply for federal disaster assistance,” said Kimbrough. “They will ask a series of questions and determine if you are eligible.”

FEMA Disaster Assistance: 800-621-3362

For the Dunns, they are thankful for the Colton community coming together, and for the recent rain.

“To return is wonderful,” said Brooke. “And also the fact the rain gave us this wonderful blessing of taking a lot of the smoke away.”

Another thing FEMA recommended if the power has been off: throw away anything still in the refrigerator. More information on how to apply for federal assistance can be found online.

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