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Family in Gila County faces back-to-back tragedies with fires, flash flooding

Cristine Hernandez El Capitan
Posted at 5:10 PM, Aug 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-31 07:10:41-04

EL CAPITAN, AZ — A family in Gila County is experiencing back-to-back tragedies after a wildfire destroyed everything they owned, and now flash flooding is eroding their land.

Cristine Hernandez bought land in a remote area in El Capitan about a year ago to turn it into her retirement home with family.

However, the Telegraph Fire destroyed everything on her property in July.

Hernandez tells ABC15 that she had building materials sitting in trailers to begin building a cabin, but all of it was destroyed as well as the trailer she lived in.

“It's been months now and you know it’s hard because then you go homeless, and you don’t realize how much a can opener means,” she said, “I just need somebody to help me.”

Hernandez says she’s reached out to different agencies — including the city, Salvation Army, and the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management.

After applying for post-wildfire assistance, she was told she was not eligible for funding.

In an email shared with ABC15, Hernandez was told, “Private landowners are only eligible to receive financial assistance if they work through an eligible applicant: Eligible applicants include Governmental organizations (including state, county, and local), 501(c) non-profit organizations, and Indian Tribes.”

A fundraiser shared online shows the devastation on the property, including washed-out roads, that prevent family members to get to their trailer, along with the devastating fire.

"These funds will be used for cleanup rebuild and living as we have been homeless since the two fires merged onto the property that turned everything to ash and Flash Flooding has done road/trail damage. My family and I will be grateful for your help. We have been abandoned by all other avenues," the post reads.

Gila County officials say there is a recovery line people impacted by fire or storms can call: 928-910-4009 EXTENSION 4.

Hernandez said she's still waiting for a call back though.

The county is also coordinating clean-up assistance that can be found here.