Ventura County Debris Removal Information:
- Right Of Entry Form if you wish to enter the CalREcycle/County program: http://venturacountyrecovers.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/County-ROE-Package-final-fillable-Woolsey.pdf
- Opt-Out Form if you do not qualify or wish to use a private contractor: http://venturacountyrecovers.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Woolsey-Hill-Fire-Local-Debris-Removal-Program-Packet_ENG_Revised-12-6-2018.pdf
Woolsey fire information line: 805-654-2432 or email at EHDWoolsey-HillFire@ventura.org
Ventura County Government Center, 800 S. Victoria Ave. Ventura, Environmental Health Division. This location will open beginning Monday, December 10th and will remain open until Friday, December 21st. It will reopen after the New Year’s Day holiday.
Thousand Oaks City Hall, will be open from Tuesday December 11th through Thursday December 13th, and then the entire week of December 17th.
- January 11, 2019: US Small Business Administration Loan Applications Deadline
- January 11, 2019: FEMA Loan Assistance Application Deadline
- ROE Permit (State Program) Application Deadline Early January 2019
- Local Program Permit Application Deadline January 11, 2019
- Debris removal completion deadline for all properties March 15, 2019
If you have not already done so, please file your insurance claim to begin your recovery process.
Here are some helpful tips from the Department of Insurance regarding how to handle your claim process:
- Start and keep a claim diary: If you only take away one piece of advice from this, it should be this: start and keep a claim diary. It is essential that you have one place that you write down dates, who you spoke with, what was promised, and any other important details. This is a stressful time, the process is lengthy, and you will deal with multiple adjusters, representatives, and agencies.
- Realize this is a long term process and have patience. The average time for your claim to be processed is about 1.5 - 3 years.
- Get a complete, current copy of your insurance policy and read it to understand your benefits. Your insurance may have already sent you a copy of your declaration, but you need your full policy, which is usually about 30 pages. Understanding your benefits will help you move your claim along.
- Ask for a cash advance for your temporary living expenses, also called ALE, or additional living expenses.
- Take photos of your property before debris is removed. If it is hard for you to do this, have someone you trust take the photos. You may not need them, however you may find evidence of a special material used to build your home, or a key layout component that can help you further along in the claim process.
- Beware of Scammers. Scam artists are most active immediately after a disaster. They may call you pretending to be your insurance company or a government agency. They may offer to clear your debris for cash. Don’t rush into signing contracts in the first weeks or making significant financial decisions before you have properly checked who is behind them. Be sure to check references before hiring help.
- Polite assertiveness: Give your insurance the chance to do the right thing, but be firm in your expectations. Be proactive about documenting your loss and make clear requests for what you need and when you expect it. Don’t be afraid to write your insurance with questions.
- Get help when you need it. If an adjuster is giving you trouble, go up the chain to your insurance company. If that does not work, contact the California Department of Insurance.
California Department of Insurance Hotline: 1-800-927-4357; 1-800-482-4833 (TTY)
Another excellent resource for you is the United Policyholders website. They are a non-profit agency that helps insurance policyholders navigate the claims process. Here are some excellent links from their website:
- United Policyholders Woolsey Fire Recovery Page: https://www.uphelp.org/blog/woolsey-fire-insurance-claim-help
- A list of tips from previous fire-loss survivors on what they wish they had known: https://www.uphelp.org/pubs/survivors-speak-tip-series
- Sample letters to send requesting important documents: https://www.uphelp.org/pubs/samples-damage-and-proof-loss-documentation
- Partial loss with smoke and ash damage: https://www.uphelp.org/pubs/smoke-and-ash-damage-wildfire
Partial loss with thermal (extreme heat) damage: https://www.uphelp.org/pubs/smoke-and-ash-damage-wildfire
This section contains helpful tips from CalRecycle and the County::
- A thorough explanation of the process
- A list of questions asked by constituents previously
- A list of county resources and phone numbers
- What is the Calrecycle/County debris removal program?
- There are two phases to debris removal.
- Phase 1 of the clean-up is already underway, as it is part of the disaster declaration. This phase removes toxic hazards (propane, paint, pesticide, asbestos, etc). Everything that cannot be removed is marked and handled in Phase 2. If someone’s home has undergone this phase, a yellow notice will be posted to their gate informing them of the condition of their home.
- Phase 2 is the Debris Removal Program that you must opt-into by filling-out a Right of Entry (ROE) form. You can find the form and deadline in the ‘Resources’ section below.
- ALL owners of a property must fill out the ROE. This is a program that comes at no cost to you and takes approximately one to three days per property, after which soil testing will be completed and takes about a week to process and will be repeated as necessary. If you have insurance, the county will bill your insurance for this program, however you do not need insurance to qualify and if your coverage is more than the cost of clearing your debris your insurance will not be overcharged.
- If you have experienced a total loss, usually defined as having one wall or less remaining of your home, you qualify for this state/county program. That being said, exceptions to this qualification are made. Many people have experienced conditions such as their homes being destroyed, but a garage or other structure remaining. If you are unsure about your qualifications, please sign-up for this program and an engineer will come to your home and discuss your qualifications and options with you. The more people who apply, the more units will be designated to our area, which will speed up this process.
- You can opt out of this program without penalty at the time your property is inspected. Withdrawal forms are attached to the end of the ROE forms linked in the ‘Resources’ section below.
- If you do not qualify for this program, or wish to go through a private contractor, you must fill out an opt-out form. You can find the form and deadline in the ‘Resources’ section below.
- Each property is different and CalRecycle goes out of their way to specialize clean-up to each property. When you fill out the ROE form you should give as much detail as possible. CalRecycle wants to know about septic tanks, wells on property, unusual structures, and any other notable qualities about your property. They may ask for drawings, plans, or any other details you can give.
- There is a space for you to ask the debris removal unit to look for some specific items. In the past, they’ve recovered purple hearts and other medals. Another example is a woman’s husband’s ashes were used to make the bricks for their chimney and CalRecycle helped salvage them for her. Don’t be shy about asking the unit to salvage anything you think may have survived the fire.
- The 3 main principles of this program are:
- Safety – Safety is the purpose and priority of this program. At 300 degrees fahrenheit, the moisture loss of concrete makes it unusable for support. This means all foundations, pool decks, garages, and other supportive structures that have been damaged by fire will be removed by default. After this, a grid is formed across the lot and soil samples are taken, which take about a week to process. If samples come back ‘hot’/contaminated, the soil is re-scraped and re-tested until it comes back clean. If a lot comes back continuously contaminated it often indicates historical issues- for example a house being built on an older burn. Once the lot is clean, Hydromulch and other erosion control is applied. Then CalRecycle communicates this to the county, so that residents can begin rebuilding. The entire process varies greatly depending on the condition of the property.
- Documentation – the entire process is meticulously documented.
- Communication – CalRecycle is communicating constantly with FEMA and the county during this process. All agencies will be present at the Debris Removal Operations Center (DROC), opening in early January, which you can visit for questions or comments.
- The DROC will have staff helping constituents fill out their Right of Entry forms. It will also have mobile units to help people assess damage and consider their options. During this process, if anyone sees ANYTHING they don’t like (ex: hazardous material falling off a truck, contractors not wearing hazmat suits during clean up, etc) they can report that to the DROC and it will be handled, regardless of if the person is in the CALRecycle program or not.
- During this process, strict decontamination procedures are followed. Air monitors are installed around neighborhoods where debris removal is occurring. There is a decontamination tent for entering and leaving the area. Hazmat suits, steel soled boots, respirators, and other safety gear is used by all people handling debris. These standards must be upheld by CalRecycle debris removal units, as well as private contractors.
Questions from Constituents
- Will the CalRecycle program leave pools intact?
CalRecycle will remove damaged concrete around pools, and partially drain pools with toxic materials in the water, but they do not want to remove all the water because the pools can ‘pop out’ of the ground due to the weight change. To complete the process, owners will have to contact a pool contractor. The program is adaptable, so if there is demand for a different approach, they will respond appropriately.
- What about basements?
If the basement is burned it will be removed. Most basements are then fenced off.
- What about vehicles on the property?
California Highway Patrol will come out, get the VIN of the vehicle, and tag it. The vehicle removal is included in removal under ‘heavy metals’.
- Will removal damage driveways?
The ROE grants indemnity to CalRecycle regarding damage incurred during removal. However, CalRecycle goes out of their way to protect driveways, and will use steel plates, plywood and other methods to protect driveways. If a driveway is damaged, they will saw-cut the damage to make it easier to fix afterward.
- What about solar panels?
They will be cleaned off and protected to the extent possible.
- Does the age of the home affect the removal process?
No, all homes are being treated as equally hazardous.