Answers to Some of San Bruno Residents' Most Pressing Questions

How to apply for insurance? Who is responsible for cleaning up damaged property? Where can I get my mail? Here are answers to those questions and more.

As many San Bruno families prepared to return to their  homes Sunday following Thursday's deadly gas pipeline explosion, they and others whose homes were destroyed or declared inhabitable are asking many questions about how to get on with their lives. 

Many of those questions came up during Saturday afternoon's town hall meeting, attended by an estimated 600 people. Officials at the meeting, including San Bruno city officials, PG&E representatives and U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier, provided some answers. 

Here is what they said. San Bruno Patch also checked around and found some additional information. 

Is the City of San Bruno conducting own investigation?

The National Transportation Safety Board is the lead agency on the cause of the explosion and has dedicated eight investigators to the probe. The NTSB is responsible for investigations of pipeline failures. The NTSB investigation is expected to take 14 to 18 months. Residents and witnesses are encouraged to contact the agency with any information they have about the explosion: sanbruno@ntsb.gov.

Will FEMA be here to help rebuild lives?

The City of San Bruno, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), FEMA, and Cal EMA will begin an official joint preliminary damage assessment on Monday to determine eligibility for federal assistance.

California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, serving as acting governor while Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is traveling in Asia, also declared a local state of emergency, freeing up state funds.

So far, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Friday authorized the use of federal funds to reimburse 75 percent of the eligible firefighting costs. Eligible costs can include equipment and supplies (less insurance proceeds) and costs for emergency work such as evacuations and sheltering, police barricading and traffic control.

How do I get my mail?

San Bruno residents affected by the disaster can pick up their mail at the San Bruno Main Post Office, 1300 Huntington Ave. Residents whose homes may not have been destroyed but who are unable to reach their home may also pick up their mail at the San Bruno Post Office.  Customers with questions about mail delivery may call the San Bruno Post Office at 650-952-2901.

What about dealing with insurance? 

Affected residents should contact their insurers as soon as possible with a list of damaged or destroyed property and current contact information.

Disaster victims should call the California Department of Insurance Consumer Hotline at (800) 927-HELP (4357) for questions about insurance coverage and living expense reimbursement during the evacuation period.

The Insurance Information Network of California has a full list of insurance company phone numbers.

Can I get a map of underground pipelines in the area?

PG&E representatives at the town hall meeting said the agency is not going to make such a map available, citing security concerns about revealing locations of gas transmission lines.

What about environmental safety around the explosion site?

Environmental experts are checking out every home to declare them clear of toxic waste, according to news reports.

Who is responsible for cleanup at each property?

Homeowners were told at Saturday's town hall meeting that they are responsible for the cleanup of their homes.  However, PG&E's website said that the utility would provide plumbers and electricians to conduct spot repairs that may be needed in order to restore service. PG&E would also provide professional cleaning specialists. Anyone with questions or concerns should visit PG&E's website or call the customer service line at 1-800-PGE-5000.

Officials urged residents to contact their private insurance companies, but added that if liability is determined to belong to PG&E, all costs will be reimbursed by PG&E.

Basic Resources for Information: 

The City of San Bruno has updates on the status of city efforts to help residents as well as results of buildings inspections and lists of homes that were affected by the Glenview fire

The assistance center at City Park will remain open at least through Tuesday (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and will have on hand representatives from different agencies to help residents. Agencies include the American Red Cross, PG&E, the Department of Motor Vehicles, Social Security, and San Mateo County Health. 

San Bruno Park School District says that all schools in the district will resume classes Monday and recreation programs based at school sites will take place as scheduled.


U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Speier's website has emergency resources information as well. 

FEMA's link for applying for assistance.

To locate family and friends go to www.safeandwell.org.


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