Take care of yourselves. Buy a VERY GOOD air purifier that can keep the air in your house safe once you get back in. It is best to get it now and use it wherever you are staying because the air quality there has to be really bad everywhere. The one we bought and have used for so many things -including killing mold in a wall) is Living Air Classic. Insurance will pay for it. It is one of the best that we know of. It is expensive but not when you think of your babies developing lungs.
After they treat your house for smoke damage you might need to insist that the insurance company repaint the interior of your home with Kilz first (to seal in the smoke in the sheet rock, etc.) then paint the color you want.
They may need to replace your carpet and send all of your furniture out to be treated for smoke damage; your clothes, shoes, everything depending on how bad it is.
Next you can think about your neighbors.
What helped me so much was a friend who came over, sat me down and helped me to remember the bills we paid monthly and to change my address to our rental. She just held my hand and sat with me for hours doing this. It is hard to remember when you are in shock and they must be contacted so the charges don’t keep coming in when there is no mailbox or house any more
Often people are in a temp place that wont’ take pets. Offer to take one in if you can do that. Our friends kept our dogs for a couple of weeks and took one to the vet to get her feet treated (her pads burned badly on her feet). The VET did the work for free because we were fire survivors.
Call their Cell phone Company- cell phone companies work with customers who have been in a fire because they know the bills skyrocket. Mine was $700 the month after the fire. They waived it for me
Sifting through the ashes
Offer to help them sift through the ashes. It is so important to have community help with this huge physical and emotional undertaking. On the day of the sift, take shovels and rakes, water, gloves, snacks, boots and leg protectors. Most of all bring good masks. There are some OK paper ones with a filter in the front of it, but it is best, of course, to get the heavy duty mask with the correct filter for the air quality. No kids should be there because you are stirring up the ashes and the air quality is horrible. You can get with other neighbors and build a couple of ‘screens’ to sift through the ashes. It can be a square or rectangle, made of 2X4’s about 2X2 feet with hardware cloth nailed to it.
All of this was so helpful for us the first days and weeks after the fires.
Our own Turtle Crow Studio is in jeopardy in Austin, TX. So we wait with bated breath, hoping we do not become a third-time victim of fires.