For almost two months, residents of Porter Ranch, CA have been exposed to the massive ongoing gas well blowout in the nearby Aliso Canyon. Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas), the company responsible for the blowout, is providing some residents with evacuation assistance. Residents now face a loss of the use and enjoyment of their homes and businesses. They are being relocated to hotels and temporary housing.
Being displaced from your home and your routine can be jarring, especially if it is for an extended period of time. SoCalGas has said that it may take at least three to four months for them to seal the blowout. In the meantime, follow our tips to ensure that your health, safety, and financial well-being remain on track through the crisis.
1. Keep a Log of Your Expenditures.
You may have made purchases to aid with relocation or for precautionary measures against the gas well blowout. This could be, for example, boxes and packing supplies bought for moving or filters and over-the-counter medications to combat the gas’ side effects. It’s very important that you keep the receipts and have a consistent log of information about your expenditures and financial burdens.
This is important because the information will aid in any legal action you take against SoCalGas and in reimbursement by the gas company. This information can serve as crucial pieces of evidence as to how you were affected by the gas well blowout. Keep a box of all your receipts and maintain a book for every expenditure you make – no matter how small.
2. Keep a Diary or Journal of Your Mental and Physical Health
This is a crucial step to take in the face of any accident or illness caused by someone else’s conduct. Keep a record of your physical ailments, your progress of recovery, your personal thoughts about being relocated, and your mental health.
If you have not yet been relocated, keep a log of when and where you smelled the gas and how strong the scent is. This information will be invaluable for investigators to understand the extent of the blowout and prevent a reoccurrence. Make sure to make a note of how the gas affects you on a daily basis.
3. Talk to A Real Estate Attorney
Many residents are worried about the devaluation of their homes, and for good reason. Porter Ranch’s proximity to Aliso Canyon has proven to be detrimental and is likely to affect the value of property in the community.
If you own a home and are leasing it, you may be affected by the loss of income, property values, and mortgage payments. Check with a real estate attorney about what options you may have and how the gas well blowout will affect the value of your property.
4. Speak to a Qualified Attorney Before Signing Anything
If you are a resident of Porter Ranch, you may be approached by companies offering money, assistance, or consultation with what appears to be no strings attached. Be warned, scammers and unscrupulous people will seek to take advantage of you during this difficult time. Make sure you do not sign anything before talking to an attorney about your legal options.
5. Keep Your Belongings in Your Home
While the gas well blowout is mostly methane, which does not can any long-term dangers to humans, it also contains mercaptans. Mercaptans have a strong, rotten egg smell that can linger on your belongings even after the blowout has been stopped. Mercaptans are believed to be the cause of the adverse health effects plaguing Porter Ranch residents including nausea, dizziness, vomiting, nosebleeds, and headaches.
Consider moving your belongings indoors to protect them from the noxious odors, or any discoloration due to the toxins in the gas. Park your cars in an indoor garage, if possible, and move all furniture indoors or in a storage facility.
6. Find out If You Are Eligible for Tax Relief
Property owners who have been the victims of major disasters, such as fires, earthquakes, or flooding, may be eligible for property tax relief. In such cases, a county assessor will need to re-evaluate the property in its damaged condition and will help you determine if you qualify. It’s important to do your own research as well and become familiar with the criteria for eligibility. For example, tax relief is not available for household furniture or state licensed mobile homes.
It’s important to remember that if you do qualify for property tax relief, you must file a claim with the county assessor within the time specified in the county ordinance or 12 months from the date of damage.
Living under gas well blowout conditions or relocating from your home can place a lot of stress on you and your family. By following these tips, you may be able to maintain financial stability during your time of crisis.
Visit our Porter Ranch Gas Blowout lawsuit page for more information about the Aliso Canyon gas well blowout, the possible health complications caused by the leaking gas, and to learn more about how you may be entitled to compensation.