Fire-Damaged Septic Systems and Wells May Be Eligible for Assistance

California residents whose homes were damaged or destroyed by the November wildfires in Butte, Los Angeles, and Ventura counties, may be able to get help paying for some household repairs not usually covered by insurance.

Repair or replacement of fire-damaged septic systems and wells may be eligible for grants from the Individual and Households Program (IHP) of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Homeowners insurance is the primary source of money to pay for damage repair following a major disaster. FEMA assistance cannot duplicate insurance coverage. However, households that don’t have insurance or have received an insurance settlement less than the cost to repair the damage, may apply to FEMA for help with wells and septic systems.

Survivors already registered with FEMA should notify their FEMA-contracted housing inspector of the damage to their septic system or private well at the time of inspection. Survivors with a completed inspection may call FEMA at 800-621-3362 with updated information. Those not registered may sign-up online at or by calling 800-621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7585). Toll-free lines are open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (PST). Multi-lingual operators available. The deadline to register is Jan. 11, 2019.

IHP grants are not intended to restore homes to pre-disaster conditions. Federal assistance may be available to qualified applicants to restore dwellings to livable and sanitary conditions. IHP applicants must own their home and it must be their primary residence. Applicants should stay in touch with FEMA with updated information about insurance settlements or damage to appliances.

RJ Ghilarducci

RJ Ghilarducci is a Public Information Officer for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). He joined the OES team to aid in 2018's Camp, Woolsey, Hill, and Holy Fire recoveries. He previously served on Governor Gavin Newsom's campaign, worked as a newspaper reporter, and coached Division 1 college football.

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