When wildfires, power shutoffs, and other disasters threaten the California way of life, finding help can be a stressful and confusing experience. This page contains links to resources to help Californians impacted by these unique challenges.
Governor Gavin Newsom announced the launch of a new state website with tools and resources for Californians who have been impacted by wildfires and utility-directed power shutoffs. The website combines emergency response and recovery information into a single place for easy access. It is a one-stop portal that includes information on local and state resources, health services, shelters and housing, preparedness, and more.
The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES)
Cal OES is responsible for overseeing and coordinating emergency preparedness, response, recovery, and homeland security activities within the state of California. Cal OES regularly dispatches team members to join first responders, emergency leaders, and those affected by disasters that threaten public safety, to tell their stories and provide information essential to the public.
The Contractors State License Board (CSLB)
As a consumer protection agency, and in its role regulating California’s construction industry, CSLB is responsible for protecting those whose homes and property are directly affected by wildfires, as well as other catastrophic events like floods, mudflows, earthquakes, and pipeline explosions. CSLB’s post-disaster mission is to help ensure that survivors are not victimized by unlicensed or unscrupulous contractors who may try to take advantage of them during the recovery and rebuilding process. It is a felony to contract without a license in a declared disaster area. Consumers can protect themselves by using CSLB’s resources to check a contractor’s license status and history.
After a disaster, CSLB staffs various assistance centers that are opened for survivors andoperated by the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) and/or the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In 2018, CSLB began a series of workshops, in conjunction with local agencies, to help survivors and contractors with the rebuilding process. Survivor workshops are focused on providing information about permits, hiring architects and contractors, and insurance claims. Contractor workshops are focused on assisting those interested in adding license classifications, employees, and workers’ compensation insurance to their licenses, and specific information about rebuilding.
Check a license: http://cslb.ca.gov/OnlineServices/CheckLicenseII/CheckLicense.aspx
File a complaint: http://cslb.ca.gov/Consumers/Filing_a_Complaint/
The California Architects Board
The Board’s Disaster Preparedness page advises consumers to be aware that illegal operations often try to take advantage of a disaster situation. The Board has two publications to assist consumers: The Homeowner’s Rebuilding Bulletin and the Consumer’s Guide to Hiring an Architect. These publications can help consumers understand how to hire an architect, their rights in obtaining copies of plans, the steps to take in negotiating a contract, and general suggestions to assist in the planning and rebuilding process.
The California Board of Pharmacy
Consumers: During a disaster evacuation, the Board stresses the importance of staying on a prescribed medication treatment plan. Take steps to ensure that medications are not exposed to water or extreme temperatures. Consumers can find an open pharmacy in areas impacted by disaster at: www.healthcareready.org/rxopen.
The Emergency Prescription Assistance Program (EPAP) helps people in a federally-identified disaster area who do not have health insurance get the prescription drugs, vaccinations, medical supplies, and equipment that they need. To determine eligibility for EPAP, call (855) 793-7470.
Pharmacists: During a declared state of emergency, the Board reminds pharmacies of information and state laws intended to help pharmacists provide prescription drugs— including controlled substances— for residents displaced because of emergency evacuation.
- Providing Prescription Drugs during Declared Statewide Emergency:
- Providing Medications for Medi-Cal Recipients Impacted by State of Emergency:
- Pharmacists may contact the Board’s Ask an Inspector program at (916) 518-3100, M-Th 9am-1pm, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Preparing for an emergency evacuation: www.pharmacy.ca.gov/consumers/disaster_planning_tips.pdf
The California Department of Insurance (DOI)
In an effort to assist victims of these devastating fires, DOI works closely with other federal, state and local agencies to assist in recovery issues related to insurance. Californians should work with their agent, insurer claims adjuster, and insurer with a goal of achieving a settlement that they believe is fair and consistent with their coverage. For questions about insurance or a dispute with an insurer, please contact DOI at 1-800-927-4357.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE)
CAL FIRE is dedicated to the fire protection and stewardship of over 31 million acres of California’s privately-owned wildlands. In addition, the CAL FIRE provides varied emergency services in 36 of the State’s 58 counties via contracts with local governments. CAL FIRE provides regular updates about fire incidents and detailed maps of fire areas.
Watch CSLB’s video to see the process of developing a rebuilding plan, hiring a contractor, financing, contracts, and actual project work. It also reviews some of the perils that homeowners can face and how to avoid them.
Watch DCA’s video on the role architects play in rebuilding after a disaster.
From the fall 2019 edition: Learn how to prepare for a Public Safety Power Shutoff and what to expect.