A recovery center opened in Bonsall to aid victims of the devastating Lilac fire more than one month after the wildfire burned through 4,100 acres of North San Diego County and destroyed dozens of buildings and homes.
There was a steady stream of people at the Federal Emergency Recovery Agency (FEMA) Disaster Relief Center at the Bonsall Community Center off Old River Road Thursday, looking for help as they rebuild parts of their lives that were lost in the Lilac Fire.
Judy Davis, 75, and has owned her home at the Rancho Monserate Country Club for almost 18 years. Her entire home is now in ashes.
Davis showed up at the recovery facility looking for help.
“As a senior, it’s really devastating; it’s really devastating to have to start all over again.”
She still remembers the moment she saw the smoke on the hill by her home, “I had a safe, a gun safe, I grabbed some papers out of it and some jewelry in travel packs, grabbed my dog, some of my medicines, not all, and got in my car and got out.”
Davis told NBC 7 she found out later that same night -- around 5:00 p.m. -- her home burned to the ground.
Now that she’s registered with FEMA, she’s prepared for the road ahead.
"It’s going to be a slow process, Davis said. "We’ve been told we’ll be out probably a year before we get back in.”
Davis would have owned her home for 18 years this May, now she has to start all over and get approved for a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan.
“I don’t know that I will qualify for SBA. I hope that I will. But it’ll probably be six to eight weeks before I talk to a loan officer,” Davis said. "Nothing can be ordered until that process goes through, and so hopefully we’ll be back by next December.”
The man Davis dates lives a street away. he also lost his home.
"You never think it’s going to happen to you especially when you’re retired and everything you have is in your home," Richard told NBC 7. "A lot of stuff you can replace. A lot of stuff you can’t.”
Richard is also going through the process of applying for government aid.
“It’s the process, you’re dealing with the insurance company, you’re dealing with FEMA, you’re dealing with SBA, and it seems like every day that goes by one of those three organizations, they need some additional information,” Richard told NBC 7.
Frustrated and already running out of patience, it’s hard for them to imagine a year of trying to rebuild their lives.
Richard said to rebuild his property will cost around $200,000 and his insurance is only helping partially.
“They paid me $120,000 for my dwelling and by the time you add up all the lot prep and move the coach in, that’s another $100,000.”
He’s also hoping for an SBA loan to help with the additional cost.
Together, trying to keep a positive attitude
"We know we’ll get through it. It’s going to be hard but we’ll get through it."