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From FEMA To Mental Health: A Guide To Getting Help After The Fire

Katherine Marinara and her son Luca find what they came back to look for, old family photographs, at their burnt down house resulting from the Woolsey Fire on Busch Drive in Malibu, California on November 13, 2018. (Photo by Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)
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As of Thursday morning, the fires that have ransacked various areas of Los Angeles and Ventura counties were finally approaching containment. Three people have died, however, and residents have been profoundly affected by the sudden and colossal blazes, with consequences ranging from poor air quality to lost homes or possessions to displacement and emotional trauma.

City and county officials, along with affected community members, are banding together to provide a variety of services in order to help those who have been impacted, and to address residents' specific concerns as directly as possible.

Here are some available services:

Free Pet Supplies and Shelter

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The Shelter Hope Pet Shop in Thousand Oaks is offering shelter and free supplies for pet owners and their four-legged friends. The Janss Marketplace, in which the Shelter Hope shop is housed, is offering a vacant spot for individuals and their pets who need a place to stay. The shop itself has been inundated with donations and encourages anyone in need to come pick them up. Those supplies include hay for horses, dog, cat and rabbit supplies, dog and cat beds and collars, and dog ramps for canines with special needs, among more.

Pro Bono Legal Help

Pepperdine University School of Law's Clinical Education Program is offering free legal assistance to those affected by the Woolsey Fire. The Disaster Relief Clinic will help victims with "FEMA applications and appeals, insurance coverage matters, business interruption, housing and rental issues, estate matters, unemployment, and consumer protection issues," according to its website. The clinic is limited to those affected by the Woolsey Fire and is prioritizing individuals located in Malibu, the Santa Monica Mountains and the Conejo Valley.

Tax Relief for Damages Exceeding $10,000

A handful of Los Angeles County officials are working together to offer information and tax relief assistance for those who've sustained a minimum of $10,000 in damages as a result of the fires. Such residents may be eligible to file a Misfortune and Calamity (M&C) claim. For more information, call the Assessor's disaster relief hotline at 213-974-8658. You can also file online here.

Mental Health Services

Natural disasters don't just affect physical property; they can affect mental health as well. The L.A. County Department of Mental Health is offering support through its disaster distress helpline, 800-985-5990, or by texting the phrase "TalkWithUs" to 66746. Residents can also try the department's access line, 800-854-7771.

The ruins of an ocean view home are seen in the aftermath of the Woolsey Fire in Malibu, California on November 14, 2018. (Photo by David McNew/AFP/Getty Images)

Red Cross Guide: "Picking Up the Pieces After a Fire"

The Red Cross has published a comprehensive guide with instructions for what to do following a home fire. "Picking Up the Pieces After a Fire" includes segments covering how to assess the damage to your home, how to cope emotionally, and combing through the paperwork and phone calls required in the fire's wake.

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Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency are landing at locations throughout Los Angeles, including evacuation shelters, to help victims of the fires learn how to apply for assistance and deal with trauma. That assistance might include low-interest disaster loans or grants for temporary housing, home repairs and replacement, according to the L.A. County Emergency Operations Center.

Those who want to begin such application processes without waiting to meet with a FEMA employee can register online or call 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585 TTY.

Woolsey Fire Help Website

For victims of the Woolsey Fire specifically, the organization Fire - Rebuild - Help has a website where individuals can upload requests and offers for help. The site includes forums for those wanting to give and those in need, as well as assistance with animals and assistance with housing. It provides ways to give, lists of resources and services, and a "Help Blog" with information and tips, such as where to find help for affected children and how to access FEMA assistance.


10:42 a.m.: This article was updated to include information about free shelter and supplies at Shelter Hope Pet Shop.

12:30 p.m.: This article was updated with information about pro bono legal services offered by Pepperdine University School of Law.

This article was originally published at 3:18 p.m. on November 15, 2018.

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