Inside the Recovery Resource Center. Photo by Jillian Ritter.

Inside the Recovery Resource Center. Photo by Jillian Ritter. 

Beginning August 29th, resources were made available for fire evacuees at the Kaiser Permanente Arena at 140 Front Street.  From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, community members can receive a meal and help from many organizations, including the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), American Red Cross, and CAL FIRE.  According to Fifth District Supervisor, Bruce McPherson, almost 4,000 individuals have already been helped. Shannon Stabler, the Public & Community Relations Coordinator for the Arena, reports that the Recovery Resource Center will remain open “for at least 30 days, when we will reevaluate and see if the Center is still needed. So far, it’s been a great success, with such an outpour of support from so many organizations.”

The Center has managed an almost impossible feat, making many resources accessible to great numbers of our community while maintaining COVID best practices.  Jillian Ritter, the County Supervisors’ Analyst who visits the Center almost daily, estimates about 225 individuals seek help from 23 organizations every day.  COVID screenings occur at the entrance and each interaction is masked and socially distanced, with directional pathways and 6 feet markers.  Additionally, cleaning crews scour the Arena nightly.  Stabler commends the decision to place the Recovery Resource Center in the Arena, “We have plenty of space for the necessary precautions and are so glad to provide this service for the community.”

Ritter compiled this list of nonprofits and government entities present at the RRC:

  • American Red Cross: Registration for potential services: mental health, crisis counseling 
  • CalFire: Fire and evacuation maps; general fire-related questions
  • Congress Woman Eshoo: Providing guidance and support with wildfire recovery
  • Contractors State License Board: Protects California consumers by licensing and regulating the state's construction industry
  • County Assessor’s Office: Property tax and reappraisal information
  • County Department of Public Works: Permit Streamlining for rebuilding associated with drainage, roadways and sanitation
  • County Environmental Health: Structure debris removal, septic, wells, water
  • County Health Services Agency (HSA): Information about COVID prevention and testing locations
  • County Human Services Department: CalFresh eligibility and sign up, Medi-Cal assistance, other assistance
  • County Park Friends: Learn about free parks and recreation resources for the whole family to support your recovery.
  • County Planning Department: Permitting, building permit records and rebuilding permits
  • Department of Insurance: Works closely with other federal, state and local agencies to assist in recovery issues related to insurance
  • Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): Assistance with replacing driver’s license, ID cards, car registration, titles, can assist with junking burned vehicles
  • Employment Development Department: Assistance with filing claims for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits, Job search assistance, general support, referrals, and resource
  • Franchise Tax Board: Business Tax Information and recovery related information for business payments, personal income tax, how to claim disaster loss
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): Located across the street for federal disaster assistance
  • Resource Conservation District: Fire prevention and post-fire recovery
  • Santa Cruz County Sheriff: General evacuation and repopulation questions
  • Second Harvest Food Bank: Food resources
  • State Supplemental Grant Program: May provide grant funds to assist people who have suffered damage in a disaster area
  • Tzu Chi: Nonprofit Financial Assistance
  • UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief):  Offering help sifting through ashes for valuables once allowed to return to property and/or small hygiene kits, clean up buckets, and rakes and shovels
  • United Policyholders: Trustworthy and useful information resource and a respected voice for consumers of all types of insurance. Free insurance and decision-making guidance through workshops, clinics, and webinars, online library of claim tips, sample letters, reports, instructional videos, professional help directory, and articles written by leading experts.  

If any of these resources can assist your recovery effort, grab your mask and legal documents on your way to 140 Front Street, between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. District Supervisor McPherson offers this encouragement to those on the fence, “Get down there as quickly as you can.  There are so many helpful organizations there to serve you.”  To make the visit easier, county officials have made free two-hour parking available on parts of Laurel Street Extension, Front Street, and Spruce Street for those utilizing the center.  However, physically visiting the Center is not your only option to receive federal disaster assistance. Check out or call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 for further details.

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