Individual assistance available to Thomas Fire victims

The city of Ventura as well as the county of Ventura have been approved in regard to their appeal to provide individual assistance to victims of the Thomas Fire.

On Jan. 2, 2018, a federal disaster declaration was issued, and that declaration has been amended to allow business owners, homeowners and other individuals who may have lost wages, housing or other things to have access to such programs as disaster unemployment insurance, housing assistance to individuals and households, small business assistance, legal assistance and community housing loans, among other federal assistance programs.

Residents and businesses in Ojai, Santa Paula, Fillmore and other cities in the county may be eligible as well.

“These individual assistance programs are critical and will go a long way towards helping impacted victims and businesses recover in as timely a manner as possible,” said County Executive Officer Michael Powers.

For more information and to apply for any of these programs, visit www.disasterassistance.gov, or call 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585. A mobile app is available to download at www.fema.gov/mobile-app.

13 flu-related deaths reported in county

The flu virus has hit the nation hard, and Ventura County has not been excluded. Public health officials say that as of Jan. 16, 13 have died as a result of complications from the flu.

Of the dead, 11 have been over the age of 65, while the others were not children, officials say. Children and the elderly are often the most at risk when affected by the flu virus, but this season, the flu virus has been particularly harsh and has lasted longer than in other years.

To complicate matters, the flu vaccination has been less effective than in previous years, helping, at the low end, only 10 percent of recipients, though some numbers indicate that could be between 30 and 40 percent. Regardless, the CDC recommends receiving the vaccination.

The Centers for Disease Control urges that those feeling symptoms stay home and limit contact with others, wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water and cover the mouth when coughing and sneezing, amongst other recommendations, which can be found by visiting https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Immunization/Influenza.aspx.

Free YMCA memberships to those impacted by Thomas Fire

The Ventura Family YMCA has announced free membership for those who lost their homes to the Thomas Fire, as well as for first responders, through March 31.

The facility, located at 3760 Telegraph Road in Ventura, increased services to better handle community needs while the fire was raging, including adding child-care services for families affected by school closures and facility access to members of the community.

The Ventura YMCA was shut down during the peak of the fire due to air quality concerns. The facility operates under the Channel Islands YMCA umbrella, which also includes the Camarillo, Montecito, Lompoc, Santa Barbara and other YMCA facilities.

“As a nonprofit, it’s our duty to do everything we can to strengthen our community, especially during tragedies like the fire,” said Amy Bailey Jurewicz, executive director of the Ventura Family YMCA. “Offering free memberships to those affected is the least we can do to support the individuals and families who lost their homes.”

For more information, visit http://www.ciymca.org/ventura/.

Transportation Commission seeking input

If you’ve got an opinion on what more can be done to improve bus services in the county, the Ventura County Transportation Commission wants to hear it. The VCTC will host three community meetings and one public hearing on the subject in January and February.

“During the annual unmet transit needs process, the community can help shape our region’s public transit system,” said Martin Erickson, VCTC transit director. “Your input ensures that local transit operators offer the most effective, convenient and efficient service possible.”

The community meetings will be held: Wednesday, Jan. 31, at 4 p.m. at the Camarillo Council Chambers, 601 Carmen Drive, Camarillo; and Thursday, Feb. 8, at 4 p.m. at the Moorpark Community Center, 799 Moorpark Ave., Moorpark.

The public hearing will be held on Friday, Feb. 2, at 9 a.m. at the Camarillo Council Chambers.

Residents can also take an online survey by visiting https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MCCTTN6 in English, https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/MNW7XXV for Spanish.

For more information, call 642-1591, ext. 115.