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FEMA Disaster Relief Center Opens To Help Lilac Fire Victims

Credit: Matt Hoffman/KPBS

Above: "For Sale" signs at a Rancho Monserate Country Club property devastated by the Lilac Fire, Jan. 22, 2018.

Federal funds are now available to help San Diegans who lost property or valuables in the Lilac Fire.

A disaster recovery center opened Monday at the Rancho Monserate Country Club to help people file claims. It is run by FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration. FEMA said around 70 mobile homes were damaged or completely destroyed at the country club.

Homeowners now have to make the tough decision to rebuild or sell their property. Charles Koppa rented a unit at the Rancho Monserate Country Club that was devastated by fire.

"Everything in my life is a reboot," Koppa said. "When you’ve had everything take away from you in 77 minutes for a 77 year life, you readjust yourself."

RELATED: Lilac Fire Cleanup Expected To Cost San Diego County $3.9M

Koppa went to the disaster recovery center to seek financial assistance from FEMA.

"They just wanna know what I can I do next, what kind of help can you give me," Vance Murphy said.

Murphy runs the center at the Rancho Monserate Country Club and said the amount of money a victim could receive will vary.

"It’s all based on an individual family, and what their situation is depending on the insurance," Vance said. "Their ability to move back into the house and how quickly they can get back in here. A lot of these people have already gotten their property restored, but their insurance only covers so much."

At the Rancho Monserate Country Club, crews have been repairing and cleaning up the charred landscape. Some people have already chose to replace their homes, but Koppa is not so sure.

"I’m not ready for that at this moment," he said. "Because I think there is going to be a long-term effort to fix this place back up."

FEMA said they plan to move the assistance center to Bonsall on Thursday. The deadline to apply for physical damages with FEMA is March 16.

The disaster recovery center is run by FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration who will be in Fallbrook until Wednesday before the center relocates to Bonsall.

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Matt Hoffman
General Assignment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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