By: Attorneys Amanda Barritt, Taylor Bollt, and Kaylee Tuck
Hurricane Ian was a storm unlike anything we have seen in Southwest Florida, and it has caused so much devastation across the beautiful cities we call our home. Recovering from a hurricane like this will take time and, as a community, we must be there to help each other.
Even though our recovery process has already begun, there is a long road ahead before we have completed our clean up. Many people still do not have power or running water. Further, the extent of damage to our neighbor’s homes and businesses was previously hard to imagine. While it may be hard to find the positives in this devastation, it is amazing to see how our state and communities, and people from across the country, are coming together to help us rebuild. Over time, our communities will come back stronger.
As Southwest Florida recovers from this storm, we have put a list of resources together that we hope will be helpful to businesses and individuals to assist in the recovery. Information below relates to both state and federal resources that can provide assistance on a multitude of issues caused by Hurricane Ian.
· Maritime Law, Hurricane Clean-Up: Tips for Handling Abandoned Vessels on your Property, by attorneys Amanda Sharkey Ross and Steven Gendreau
· Tax Law, Hurricane Ian Brings Tax Relief for Those Affected, by attorney Matthew Brust
State and Federal Resources
FEMA Assistance – Homeowners and renters may apply for FEMA disaster assistance by going to DisasterAssistance.gov, calling 800-621-3362 from 7a.m. to 11p.m. Eastern Time, or by using the FEMA mobile app. When applying for assistance, have the following information available:
· A current phone number
· Your address at the time of the disaster and the address where you are staying now
· Social Security Number
· General list of damage and losses
· Banking information if you choose direct deposit
· If insured, the policy number or the agent and/or the company name
Shelter Assistance – Individuals who need shelter may visit FloridaDisaster.org/shelter-status to find a general population shelter, special needs shelter, or pet-friendly shelter.
Assignment of Benefits (“AOB”) Fraud – if you have questions about an AOB you are being asked to sign, call the Florida CFO office at 877-MY-FL-CFO (693-5236). To report AOB fraud, call the Florida CFO Consumer Hotline at 800-378-0445.
Small Business Administration Disaster Loans – are available for businesses, homeowners, renters and nonprofit organizations in Florida counties approved for individual assistance. Applicants may apply at DisasterLoanAssistance.sba.gov under declaration #17644. For help, call 800-659-2955 or send an email to DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov.
Operation Blue Roof – a free service to assist eligible homeowners with temporary roof repairs. The program is for primary residences or a permanently occupied rental property with less than 50 percent structural damage. Vacation rental properties are not eligible for this program. Residents can sign up at Blueroof.us or call 1-888-ROOF-BLU (1-888-766-3258). Initial sign up period ends October 23.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance – provides temporary financial assistance to individuals whose employment has been either lost or interrupted as a direct result of a major disaster. Individuals have until December 30, 2022 to apply online at CONNECT.MyFlorida.com or call 1-800-385-3920.
Emergency Bridge Loans – Governor DeSantis activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to help companies deal with temporary operational gaps after Hurricane Ian. Eligible businesses have until December 2, 2022 to complete an application by visiting https://deosera.force.com/RebuildFloridaBusinessLoanFund/s/.
Florida’s Disaster Contractors Network (DCN) – this network has been activated to provide support to homeowners in need of post-Hurricane Ian home repairs. This is a free service founded in part by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations and can be utilized by visiting https://www.dcnonline.org/.
State Updates – Find the most recent information from the state on businesses offering services and assistance, including accommodation and lodging partners, major retailers offering assistances, state partnerships, including updates from DBPR by visiting https://floridadisaster.biz/currentdisasterupdates.
For the most up-to-date information on local resources, including food and water distribution, shelters, medical services, debris pick-up, essential services, and volunteer opportunities, please visit the following sites for:
· Collier County: https://www.colliercountyfl.gov/home
· Lee County: https://www.leegov.com/hurricane/storm
· Charlotte County: https://www.charlottecountyfl.gov/departments/public-safety/emergency-management/storm.stml
We will continue to update the list of resources on our website, click here.