Assistance available for damaged wells, septic systems

Victims of September’s Echo Mountain Complex fire in north Lincoln City may be eligible to receive assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Individuals and Households Program to aid in repair or replacement of damaged private wells or septic systems. (Photo by Michael Heinbach)

FEMA aims to fund repairs insurance doesn’t cover

SALEM — Financial assistance is available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Individuals and Households Program to victims of September’s Echo Mountain Complex fire whose residences lost access to water and sewer service through private wells and septic systems.

In a joint news release with the Oregon Office of Emergency Management last week, FEMA announced that residents in Lincoln, Clackamas, Douglas Jackson, Klamath, Lane, Linn and Marion counties are eligible for federal assistance to individuals and households for repairs not usually covered by homeowner’s insurance, such as the repair or replacement of damaged septic systems and wells damaged by wildfires.

“FEMA assistance cannot duplicate insurance coverage,” the agency wrote in the release. “However, households that don’t have insurance or have received an insurance settlement less than the cost to repair serious damage may apply to FEMA for help with costs that are necessary to have a functioning home, including for repair or replacement of private wells and/or septic systems.”

For consideration for assistance with a damaged private well or septic system, apply with FEMA online at DisasterAssistance.gov, through the FEMA cellphone app, or by calling 1-800-621-3362 between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., seven days a week. Those who use a phone service such as a videophone InnoCaption or CapTel must update FEMA with their assigned number for that service. Phone calls from FEMA often come from an unidentified number.

Those who’ve applied with FEMA and have not yet had a home inspection should make the FEMA inspector aware of the presence of a private well or septic system on the property when the inspector visits the residence. FEMA applicants with homeowner’s insurance should contact the FEMA disaster help line at 1-800-621-3362 and tell the customer service agent there is well or septic system damage so an inspection can be ordered.

Those who’ve already had a FEMA inspection and damage to a well or septic system that wasn’t reported can send the agency a signed and dated letter along with a contractor’s estimate to repair the damage and indicate they are initiating an appeal for well/septic system damage repair or replacement.

Fire victims who’ve received FEMA assistance for well or septic system repair or replacement but seek additional financial assistance can also submit an appeal. To do so, provide FEMA with a verifiable estimate and/or receipt that indicates the well or septic system was physically damaged, and/or is no longer functioning as a direct result of the disaster. Applicants will need to include a signed and dated letter with the contractor’s estimate.

If estimates and receipts submitted do not include all the information required, FEMA will call the contractor to confirm the information is valid.

Disaster victims can also receive personalized mitigation advice to repair and rebuild in a safer and stronger fashion from a FEMA mitigation specialist. For information on how to rebuild safer or to inquire about flood risks following a wildfire, send an email to [email protected]@dhs.gov.

For the latest information from FEMA regarding disaster recovery, follow FEMA Region 10 on Twitter and LinkedIn or visit fema.gov.

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