By Deanna Morey
OAK HILL – In a boost for efforts to rebuild after the Oak Hill wildfire, an uninsured resident who lost everything has received a $30,000 Federal Emergency Management Agency grant.
FEMA recently informed Lily Henric that she would be awarded $28,000 towards rebuilding her home and an additional $2,000 toward temporary hotel or apartment rental assistance.
Henric wasn’t certain that FEMA would assist Oak Hill residents, since Travis County was added to the list of eligible counties long after the April 17 fire. She began the process unsure about whether she might be eligible, but less than two weeks later the money was placed in her account.
“It is certainly welcome and I feel blessed and so grateful because it’s something I didn’t expect,” said Henric, who has discussed the process at an Oak Hill Wildfire Relief meeting to let others know they might be eligible as well.
Even for homeowners with insurance, FEMA may be able to cover certain items that were not covered by insurance. In some cases FEMA also offers low-interest Small Business Association loans.
That doesn’t mean that the fundraising is over just yet. Oak Hill Wildfire Relief may have raised enough to rebuild Henric’s home, but that remains uncertain because all of the prices for work and materials are not yet known. Some companies and contractors also are offering discounted or free services or supplies.
“We’re taking it step by step,” Henric said. “We’re planning on raising more money and not spending unless we absolutely have to.”
Group members are currently working to get the best price on shingles. They already have negotiated to buy windows and sliding glass doors at a discounted price of $5,000. Electrical services and supplies will be donated.
“I’ve been so fortunate every step of the way. Hopefully I can help someone else who needs it,” said Henric, noting that she would love to see extra funds donated to victims of other fires if the group raises more funds than is needed to rebuild homes and assist neighbors.
Oak Hill Wildfire Relief Chair Gary Hunt said that at least for the time being, the group will continue to raise funds for those affected by the wildfire, though he admitted, “we’re looking pretty good in that regard.”
Some bills, such as the invoice for lumber, won’t come until the end, and since other prices have not yet been established, the group is hesitant to end fundraising efforts all together. In fact, they’ve already scheduled their next fundraiser—a golf tournament at Grey Rock Golf Club on Nov. 15.
But with money in the bank, the organization is feeling positive about their goal of completing Henric’s home by Christmas.
“We believe we have the money right now to finish Lily’s,” Hunt said. “We’ve gotten donations for the electrical and the plumbing. We still have outstanding bills for the windows and wood, but people continue to be terrific.”