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County Agency Helps San Bruno Fire Residents within Local Assistance Center
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By Santral Lusin, American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter
September 14, 2010
 Christine Taliva'a-Aguerre Helps a Resident of the San Bruno Fire
Christine Taliva'a-Aguerre from the San Mateo County Assessors Office has been working in the Local Assistance Center to help the families affected by the San Bruno Fire on Sept. 9. (Credit: Donna Stroop, American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter.
For those who have lost everything, having a central location to receive services is crucial. One of the agencies who are set up at the Local Assistance Center attending to individuals needs is the San Mateo County Assessors Office. Christine Taliva’a-Aguerre has been at the center since Monday morning and is helping residents deal with the financial impact of the fire.
“One couple I helped just bought their dream home two-and-a-half weeks ago, and everything is gone. Just in a couple weeks their first payment is due on their house, and they hadn’t even finished unpacking,” lamented Taliva’a-Aguerre. “Another couple had just completed an addition, and they are now having to pay on something that’s not even there anymore.”
These are the types of burdens that the San Mateo County Assessors office is trying to help ease by assisting individuals through the process of lowering their property taxes. “Some people don’t even realize that they can reduce their property taxes if they have suffered $10,000 or more in damage,” stated Taliva’a-Aguerre.
Not only has it been helpful to the clients to have various services centrally located, but the agencies within the local assistance center see the benefits of partnering as well. “There are so many people here to help everyone. It’s so nice that everyone is working together,” said Taliva’a-Aguerre. “The Red Cross people have been here (saying), ‘Come over here. This is so and so they can help you.’”
It’s easy to see the sense of community within the center itself. Everyone there is looking to help those affected as best they can. The outpouring of help and partnership brought on by the tragedy of the San Bruno Fire demonstrates how quickly a neighborhood can come together to help those in need.  
“San Bruno is a really tight community and it will bounce back,” said Taliva’a-Aguerre.

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