Department Of Interior
|Office of the Secretary
|For Immediate Release:November 17, 2003
Interior Secretary Surveys Barona Reservation Fire Damage
-- Highlights emergency funds made available for tribal members --
(BARONA RESERVATION, CALIF.) - Interior Secretary Gale Norton today surveyed fire damage suffered by the Barona Band of Mission Indians at the Barona Reservation. Approximately 6,300 acres of tribal land was burned as the Cedar fire spread across the community on Oct. 25, 2003. The fire consumed 39 homes, two schools and reservation's electrical and telephone infrastructure.
Secretary Norton said the Bureau of Indian Affairs has provided $723,000 in emergency assistance for dislocated tribal members in Southern California affected by October fires. The BIA has approved 564 applications for emergency assistance - of which at least 32 have been approved for Barona tribal members. The assistance is distributed at $1,000 per tribal family and is provided to pay for shelter, food and clothing while a family is dislocated.
"While no one can replace the memories and heartache that these fires have caused, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has responded by providing emergency assistance to tribal members throughout Southern California," Secretary Norton said.
BIA's Southern California Agency has been a lead group in conducting weekly informational meetings with tribal leaders and members affected by the fire all across Indian Country. The Agency has also arranged individual meetings between FEMA and tribal leaders regarding housing assistance.
"The people of the Barona reservation are beginning to recover," Secretary Norton said. New replacement home construction is in the planning stage. On November 10, tribal members were given five floor plans to choose from for their replacement home. The tribe will build the homes and members will buy these homes and a pay a mortgage to the tribe.
"The electrical service is back at the Barona Reservation and the healing is underway. It will take time and it will take perseverance. I thank the tribal leaders and members, BIA employees and countless others across Southern California Indian Country for working so selflessly and heroically to restore the community's, rebuild the infrastructure and foundations and renew spirits," Secretary Norton concluded.
Thirteen federally recognized tribes were affected by the recent fires in Southern California tribes. The following list is the tribes and a brief description of the losses:
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