FEMA responding to possibly making fire survivors pay, turning it onto PG&E

FEMA is threatening to make Camp Fire survivors pay them back if PG&E doesn't pay up. Action News Now has a raw phone interview with FEMA Regional Administrator, Robert Fenton, regarding this.

Posted: Jan 13, 2020 5:39 PM
Updated: Jan 13, 2020 6:28 PM

CHICO, Calif. - FEMA is threatening to make Camp Fire survivors pay them back if PG&E doesn't pay up.

Action News Now reporter Kristian Lopez was in Paradise where many said they're furious at the federal government's suggestion that a debt is owed.

Federal officials are prepared to bill wildfire victims for a part of the nearly $4 billion the government says its owed by PG&E, if the debt isn't resolved in the utility's bankruptcy case.

FEMA has requested reimbursement from PG&E to cover costs from the government’s response to destructive fires in 2015, 2017 and 2018.

FEMA says they are still trying to go after a portion of the $13.5 billion dollar settlement, which would also take away from survivors.

Camp Fire survivor, Bill Krulder says "We're supposedly a strong government, with these disasters where FEMA goes everywhere in the United States and I know it's been a hard year but still, to charge us after this is wrong."

Action News Now spoke with Robert Fenton, a Regional Administrator for FEMA, he says, "They have been victimized by the fire once and they don't want to be victimized twice, they're tax payers and they pay into the same fund where FEMA helps people just like them, and I think what they need to do is ask these questions to PG&E and The Courts Claimants Committee and ask them why they have set up this process."

If FEMA does have to charge survivors, individuals would be responsible if they get settlement funds that duplicate money already paid by the federal government.

Under PG&E's current plan to resolve its bankruptcy, any payment to FEMA would have to come from the $13.5 billion dollar settlement, only a judge could change that structure.

Action News Now asked PG&E about FEMA's threat, the utility says FEMA does not have a valid legal claim against it.

PG&E says the bankruptcy court has approved its settlement agreements for all major wildfire claims.

PG&E says it's still working with stakeholders to come up with the best reorganization plan.

RELATED: Report: Feds to bill fire victims if utility doesn't pay $4B

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