UPDATE 8/23/2016 6 PM:
Despite full containment being more than a month away, Monterey County says it is transitioning to a recovery mode for the 87,000 acre Soberanes Fire. Yet in an effort to maintain resources, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors approved extending a local emergency proclamation for the Soberanes and Chimney Fires on Tuesday.
"What that does for the county is it allows us to mobilize resources for both response and recovery,” said Sherrie Collins, emergency services manager for Monterey County. “It allows departments to commit resources, both financial as well as contracting and procurement. So it just guides the county. It also indicates to the state that we continue to be in an emergency. The governor has also declared emergencies for both Monterey County and San Luis Obispo for both of these fires. So it, again, acknowledges back to the state that we continue to be in a state of emergency and continue to request their assistance moving forward."
Moving forward means taking stock. Public works crews are assessing infrastructure. Collins said there’s a lot of damage to Palo Colorado Road, with crews removing debris and getting rid of hazardous trees. Damage estimates have ranged from $5 million to $8 million.
"They're also looking at other facilities that might be damaged,” Collins said. “The regional parks sustained quite a bit of damage, so they are going through a damage assessment right now. There's a water system, a water utility system that also sustained damage so the state will be coming in to look into that."
The county is also streamlining its permitting process to help survivors rebuild. However one of the issues homeowners may face is being under-insured or having unpermitted additions.
"We'll be looking at fee waivers to waive for individuals to help them with costs,” said John Guertin, acting deputy director for the Monterey County Resource Management Agency. “But if they have insurance and they can go through their insurance company, we want to work with the insurance company so we can recoup costs so that the tax payers aren't footing the bill unnecessarily."
Representatives with the Small Business Administration are coming to town this week to see if homeowners can qualify for long-term low interest disaster loans.
Also looking long term, the threat of what could be lurking this winter.
"I think it's never too early to start talking about what's going to happen when the fire is over,” Monterey County Supervisor Dave Potter said. “I mean, when everybody thinks the fire is done, we're out of the woods and we're safe. We're not, because the rains this year, the mudslides, the debris flows will be very, very significant and very, very dangerous."
Potter said he wants to have crews start assessing areas of concern and will try to keep debris out of culverts and streams.
On Tuesday, the Monterey County Board of Supervisors extended a local emergency declaration because of the Soberanes Fire by another 30 days.
On July 26, Acting Governor Tom Torlakson issued a state of emergency for Monterey County. The declaration allows counties to ask the state for aid.
KION's Mariana Hicks will have more on this story including what's in store for the county, as it plans ahead for the recovery phase.