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Business Recovery Center opened for business owners affected by Woolsey Fire

The Woolsey Fire destroyed 1,500 structures. Many of them were homes but a lot were also local business leaving many residents without a place to live, but also a job.

“The house is gone. Totally,” said Art Mortell.

All that Art and Catalina Mortell have left to show what their Malibu house looked like as the Woolsey fire approached is a picture. They received a photo what their house looks like now after the fire burned it to the ground.

“It was time for new carpeting,” joked Mortell.

Mortell’s home business also went up in flames.

“I give lectures on how to deal with adversity, trauma, how to handle stressful situations, and somehow turn it around to your benefit,” said Mortell.

The Martells have been staying in an Oxnard hotel since the wildfire took over their city.

“On the way to go see the house, we haven’t seen it yet although we know it’s gone, we decided to stop here and see how much information we can get and what the next steps are,” said Mortell.

To help, the Federal Small Business Administration opened up a Business Recovery Center in Camarillo. It especially targets business owners and most private and nonprofits affected by the Camp and Woolsey fires.

“In terms of injecting capital post-disaster, there is no program that FEMA provides, SBA is the only program by which folks that have suffered incredible losses can recoup their losses and get on with their lives,” said Susheel Kumar, the Public Information Officer at Small Business Administration.

The feds are encouraging those affected to bring in insurance papers they still might have, and if possible, tax returns.

“All they really need to do is to come by as they are talk about their business, talk about their loss, talk about what kind of assistance they need, and the rest is up to us,” said Kumar.

Disaster loans are not only for businesses that burned to the ground. It also applies to the folks who had to evacuate and couldn’t show up for work. Art Mortell is taking advantage of the center because, after 35 years, his business and his house is nothing but ashes.

“This is what is helping,” said Mortell. “We are getting all the information that we need so we can make the right decision.”

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