Taking the Next Steps: Important Resources for Fire Victims

About fifty residents gathered at Pleasant Valley Elementary Thursday night to hear from insurance experts about filing claims and what to expect from insurance companies.

“When a situation arises, that’s what you have regulators for,” Nevada Division of Insurance representative Marie Holt said. “We oversee the insurance companies as well as the agents and make sure what the insurance companies are offering is what the policy holder is going to receive in the event of a loss.”

When it comes to filing a claim, Holt says the most important thing homeowners can do is take their time and do their homework.

“Don’t get in a hurry to settle a claim,” Holt said. “It’s important to make sure, yes, you’re reimbursed but that you’re reimbursed for the total amount of the loss. Remember, your insurance policy is there to make you whole.”

The Washoe Drive Fire tore through Pleasant Valley last Thursday. The elementary school was evacuated.

“When I burst through the doors to get to the bus it was really hard to breathe,” 3rd grader Madison Lowery said. “We were all coughing and when we got to Damonte everyone was freaking out. I could see my sister from where I was sitting with my friends-you know what they say, stick with friends- but the whole thing was really hard.”

Her little sister Brooke says she wasn’t scared but a lot of her friends were.

“Most of my friends were crying on the bus,” 1st grader Brooke Lowery said. “They were worried about their stuff, one of my friends had half of their house burn down.”

The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office is trying to help those affected by the fire with their immediate needs.

“We want to provide any assistance we can, it may be as simple as helping them get a new driver’s license,” WCSO Capt. Russell Pedersen said. “Right now we just don’t have all the contact information we need because a lot of phone numbers we have are residential and those homes have been lost. So we’re hoping to get cell numbers and addresses of where people are staying so we can follow up with them.”

He says their office has set up a line at (775) 325-6927 to help fire victims.

“Maybe they lost their vehicle and need help getting down to the DMV to get their new license,” Pedersen said. “We certainly want to help in any way we can. And we might not be able to personally provide everyone with assistance, but we want to identify their needs and get them in contact with the proper resources.”

Natural Resource Specialist Ed Smith says a valuable asset is the living with fire program.

“The living with fire program- www.livingwithfire.info – this is the collective effort of Northern Nevada’s local, state and federal firefighting agencies and the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension coming together to put all the important wildfire threat reduction information we know that’s tailor-fitted to Nevada in one place,” Smith said.

Next Monday there will be a forum on post-fire landscape care at Pleasant Valley Elementary and on Tuesday Smith will talk about reducing fire hazards around your home.

“I’m going to present Be Ember Prepared” Smith said. “It’s a 30-minute video we put together that talks about 22 locations on your home that are vulnerable to ember attack. Embers played a huge role in the Washoe Drive Fire and the Caughlin Fire and there are a number of good mitigation measures people can take that can really reduce the potential of losing your home during a fire.”

Both those presentations start at 6 p.m.

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