Florida deals with various disasters all year round, such as hurricanes, wildfires, floods, and hazardous incidents. The Division of Emergency Management takes charge in the planning and response efforts for such events. It creates and executes a Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan, regularly conducting extensive exercises to evaluate response capabilities at the state and county levels.
Post-disaster, the division undertakes damage assessment surveys and provides recommendations to the Governor regarding emergency declarations and the pursuit of federal relief funds. This mission operates from the primary Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Tallahassee, serving as a central hub for emergency reporting and state response coordination. Additionally, the State Warning Point, a 24-hour emergency communications center, ensures uninterrupted communication with county emergency officials.
The Recovery Bureau plays a pivotal role in maximizing disaster assistance for public entities, individuals, and families through a range of State and Federal disaster assistance programs. These programs play a crucial role in rebuilding lives and communities following significant disasters, commencing the recovery process. Disaster relief Florida declarations, which include both Individual and Public Assistance programs, can be authorized by the President at the request of the Governor, following the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act.
To streamline access to available recovery resources, FEMA, in collaboration with federal interagency partners, established the Recovery and Resilience Resource Library. This resource aids state, local, territorial, and tribal governments, nonprofits, businesses, healthcare institutions, schools, individuals, and households in identifying and researching federal recovery resources applicable to the Florida disaster recovery planning and post-disaster recovery efforts.
Key recovery programs include:
- Fire Management Assistance Grant Program
- Individual Assistance
- Public Assistance Grant Program
- Notice of Funding Hurricane Michael State Grant
- Hurricane Michael State Recovery Grant Webinar
- FEMA Environmental Assessments
In the pursuit of reducing the impact of these events, the Bureau of Mitigation oversees several federal mitigation grant programs, including the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program, and Flood Mitigation Assistance Program. The state-funded Hurricane Loss Mitigation Program is another key initiative.
To adhere to federal regulations, the Bureau of Mitigation continually updates the State Enhanced Hazard Mitigation Plan and actively supports local communities in their mitigation planning efforts. For Florida residents seeking information on Florida disaster relief grant funding, inquiries can be directed to ResidentialMitigation@em.myflorida.com.
For more insights into the My Safe Florida Home Program, which was recently reinstated by the Florida Legislature, you can visit their official website.
Step-by-Step Recovery Checklist
In the wake of a hurricane, Floridians must take strategic steps to recover and rebuild their lives. Here’s a comprehensive checklist to guide you through the process:
Step 1: Inspect and Document Damage
- Begin by thoroughly inspecting your home for any damage.
- Capture photographs of both the structural damage and the state of your belongings. This documentation is crucial for insurance claims.
- Don’t forget to record high water marks if applicable.
- If you need assistance with clean-up, contact Crisis Clean-up at 1-800-451-1954.
Step 2: Contact Your Insurance Provider
- Reach out to your insurance provider to initiate the claims process.
- Maintain a detailed log of all communication with your insurance company.
Step 3: Apply to FEMA for Assistance
- Contact FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or visit DisasterAssistance.gov.
- You can also download the FEMA app or visit a Disaster Recovery Center.
- If you have immediate critical needs, indicate this in your FEMA application. Critical needs include essential items like food, water, and medication.
- For those with homes rendered unlivable, consider Transitional Sheltering Assistance, a program offering temporary accommodations. FEMA will notify you of eligibility.
Step 4: Commence Cleanup
- Start the cleanup process by organizing debris into different categories, such as vegetative debris, hazardous waste, construction debris, household garbage, large appliances, and electronics.
- While cleaning up, wear protective clothing and exercise caution to avoid injury.
- Volunteers may be available to assist; you can contact Crisis Clean-up at 1-800-451-1954.
Step 5: Roof Damage Assistance
- If your property has roof damage, consider applying for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Blue Roof Program.
- You can reach them at 1-888-ROOF-BLU (1-888-766-3258) or visit blueroof.us.
Step 6: Apply for Food Assistance
- Florida families affected by the hurricane can apply for food assistance through the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Visit myflfamilies.com/DSNAP for more information.
Step 7: Change of Address (COA) Request
- If you won’t be able to occupy your home within 30 days, submit a temporary Change of Address (COA) request with the U.S. Postal Service.
- Indicate “Temporary” on the card or online form if you plan to return within six months. If you don’t intend to return, submit a permanent COA request.
Step 8: Apply for Unemployment Assistance
- If you’re unemployed due to the hurricane’s impacts, visit floridadisaster.biz or a FL Disaster Relief Center to apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA).
- If you need assistance with the DUA application, call 1-800-385-3920. DUA Customer Service Representatives are available Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. EST.
Guidelines for Florida Businesses After a Hurricane
For Florida businesses navigating post-hurricane recovery, these steps are crucial:
Step 1: Document Business Damage
- Begin by photographing your business premises and any hurricane-related damage. This documentation is crucial for insurance claims and seeking disaster relief.
Step 2: Business Damage Assessment Survey
- If your business was impacted by the hurricane, participate in the Business Damage Assessment Survey to provide information on damage and losses. This data helps the state direct assistance effectively.
Step 3: Visit a Disaster Recovery Center
- Disaster Recovery Centers staffed with state and federal agencies are available to help businesses access resources for recovery.
- Small Business Development Council representatives are on-site to guide you through the recovery process. Locate a disaster recovery center or a small business disaster center here.
Step 4: Apply for Emergency Bridge Loans
- Small businesses facing economic injury or physical damage from the hurricane can apply for short-term, zero-interest loans. $50 million in loans are available for businesses affected by the hurricane.
Step 5: Apply for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans
- Economic injury disaster loans are available for small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and most private nonprofit organizations that have suffered substantial economic injury due to the hurricane. These loans provide working capital and cover normal expenses such as healthcare benefits, rent, utilities, and fixed debt payments. Apply for the loan here.
These steps are essential for Floridians and local businesses to effectively manage the recovery process following a hurricane.
Preparing for the 2023 Hurricane Season
Living in Florida offers countless benefits, but residents must always be well-prepared for upcoming hurricanes and other natural disasters. Learning from the damages caused by previous hurricanes, Floridians are strongly advised to maintain at least a seven-day supply of essential items, including food, water, medicine, batteries, and more. It’s essential for both families and businesses to be well-stocked and equipped for the hurricane season.
In the past three years, Florida has been struck by four hurricanes, including Hurricane Michael, which made history as the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Donations for Disaster Relief
Your support can make a significant impact in aiding Floridians during times of disaster. Donations to the Florida disaster relief fund are managed by the Volunteer Florida Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization (EIN# 01-0973168), making your contributions tax-deductible.
- Thanks to the generosity of companies like Paypal/Braintree, Visa, MasterCard, and American Express, they have waived fees for hurricane recovery donations. This means that 100% of your donation goes directly towards helping Floridians recover from disasters.
- The Florida Disaster Fund allocates funds to service organizations that play vital roles in providing disaster response and recovery assistance to individuals in their communities.
- If you prefer to donate by check, make your check payable to the “Volunteer Florida Foundation” and include “Florida Disaster Fund” in the memo line. You can mail your donation to: Volunteer Florida Foundation Attn: Florida Disaster Fund 1545 Raymond Diehl Road Suite 250 Tallahassee, FL 32308
- You can also donate through your cell phone by texting “DISASTER” to 20222 to contribute $10 or “DISASTER25” to 20222 for a $25 donation.
For assistance and information during emergency situations, including times of natural disasters, here are some important contact numbers:
- State Assistance Information Line: Call 1-800-342-3557 for general state assistance.
- Disaster Legal Hotline: For legal assistance related to disasters, dial 1-866-550-2929.
- Elder Helpline: Seniors can get help and support by calling 1-800-963-5337.
- Price Gouging Hotline: To report price gouging, please call 1-866-966-7226.
- Disaster Distress Helpline: If you or someone you know is experiencing emotional distress due to a disaster, call 1-800-985-5990.
These helplines are essential resources during and after disasters, and will certainly help in times of crisis.
Q : What are some of the natural disaster Florida faces each year?
A : Florida faces a variety of natural disasters each year including hurricanes, tropical storms, thunderstorms, lightning strikes, tornadoes, flooding, wildfires, and occasionally, sinkholes.
Q: What is FEMA assistance Florida?
A: FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) assistance in Florida refers to the support provided by the federal government to individuals, businesses, and communities in Florida during and after disasters. This Florida disaster assistance program aims to help those affected by natural or man-made disasters, such as hurricanes, floods, wildfires, or other emergencies, by providing financial aid, resources, and guidance to facilitate recovery and rebuilding efforts.