Fighting for Florida

In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, our office stands ready to assist Floridians impacted by the storm. 

Below you will find a list of assistance options that may be available to you. For further assistance, please feel free to contact our office toll-free at  1-866-630-7106.

The agencies listed below provide resources for those affected by a natural disaster.  The American Red Cross is the lead organization in recovery and assistance as it provides:

  • Emergency Assistance
  • Food and Shelter
  • Physical and Mental Health Services
  • Long-Term Case Management
  • Long-Term Emotional Support

The office maintains contact with the organization to identify how constituent services can provide support.

Department of Veterans Affairs
Change of address because of a disaster due to displacement or homeless and the individual is getting medical treatment or a benefit payment – some can make the change through eBenefits website.  Others may not have access or currently enrolled.

Those with pending claims or appeals could qualify for an expedite requested due to homelessness or displacement. 

Social Security Administration
Recipients of retirement, disability, family, and survivor benefits and their dependents may require a change of address because of a disaster.
Those with pending claims or appeals could qualify for an expedite requested due to homelessness or displacement. 

US Small Business Administration
Business Disaster Loans
Businesses of all sizes and private, non-profit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace:

  • Damaged or destroyed real estate.
  • Machinery and equipment.
  • Inventory and other business assets. 
The SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) up to $2 million to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster for:
  • Small businesses,
  • Small agricultural cooperatives,
  • Small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and
  • Most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes.

EIDL help is available whether the business had any physical property damage or not.

The statutory limit for business loans is $2 million and applies to:
The combination of physical, economic injury, mitigation, refinancing, and
All disaster loans to a business and its affiliates for each disaster.  https://www.sba.gov/loans-grants/see-what-sba-offers/sba-loan-programs/disaster-loans

Home and Property Disaster Loans
Financial help to homeowners and renters in a declared disaster area in the form of low-interest, long-term loans for losses not fully covered by insurance or other means.  Up to $200,000 may be borrowed to repair or replace a primary home to its pre-disaster condition.  Cannot be used to upgrade or add on to a home.  Second homes or vacation properties are not eligible. https://www.sba.gov/loans-grants/see-what-sba-offers/sba-loan-programs/disaster-loans/types-disaster-loans/home-and-personal-property-loans

An individual may be able to borrow up to $40,000 to replace damaged or destroyed personal property, like:

  • Clothing
  • Furniture
  • Appliances
  • Cars, or
  • Other personal property that is not real estate or part of the actual structure. 

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program
These short-term, interest-free working capital loans are intended to “bridge the gap” between the time a major catastrophe hits and when a business has secured longer term recovery resources, such as sufficient profits from a revived business, receipt of payments on insurance claims or federal disaster assistance.  http://www.floridadisasterloan.org/

Loan Details

  • Amount: Between $1,000 and $25,000.
  • Term: 90 or 180 days based on individual business circumstances.
  • Interest: Loans will be interest-free for the loan term.
  • Payments: Payments are not required during the established loan term, but loans must be paid in full by end of the loan term, otherwise penalties apply.
  • Payment Process: Loan payments will be made directly by borrowers to Florida First Capital Finance Corporation, the State of Florida appointed program administrator.
  • Non-Payment Penalties: Penalties for non-payment will begin at the expiration of the established term of each loan 

US Department of Agriculture
Food for Florida is the state of Florida's Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP). The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) approves state requests to operate a D-SNAP. Local grocery stores must be open and operating, and there must be a presidential disaster declaration for individual assistance for your area http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/programs/access/fff/ .

Some of the qualifications:

Have at least one of these disaster-related effects or expenses:

  • Home or business repairs;
  • Temporary shelter or evacuation expenses;
  • Home or business protection;
  • Personal injury, including funeral expenses;
  • Lost or no access to income; or
  • Food loss, in some cases, if you have no other disaster-related expenses.

Emergency Farm Loans
If an area has been declared by the President or designated by the Secretary of Agriculture as a disaster or quarantine area and a farm or ranch is owned or operated in the primary or an adjoining county, then they may be eligible for emergency loan funds. https://www.fsa.usda.gov/programs-and-services/farm-loan-programs/emergency-farm-loans/index

Emergency loan funds may be used to:

  • Restore or replace essential property;
  • Pay all or part of production costs in the disaster year;
  • Pay essential family living expenses;
  • Reorganize the farming operation;
  • Refinance certain debts, excluding real estate. 

Up to 100 percent of the total actual production or physical losses may be borrowed. Production losses must exceed 30 percent. The maximum loan amount is $500,000.

US Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
Individuals and Households Program (IHP) Housing Assistance
IHP Housing Assistance helps people affected by a disaster. It provides money, up to the program maximum, for necessary housing-related expenses and serious needs that can’t be met through other means. https://www.disasterassistance.gov/

Housing assistance under IHP includes:

  • Temporary housing.
  • Repair or replacement of existing home.
  • Semi-permanent or permanent housing construction. 
To get money or help for disaster-related housing needs, all of the below must be true:
  • You have losses in a presidentially declared disaster area.
  • You have no insurance, or have filed an insurance claim but the damage isn’t covered, or your insurance settlement doesn’t cover all of your losses.
  • You or someone who lives with you is a U.S. citizen, a non-citizen national, or a qualified alien.
  • The affected home is where you usually live and where you were living at the time of the disaster.
  • You are not able to live in your home now, you can’t get to your home, or your home requires repairs because of disaster damage.

Individuals and Households Program (IHP) Other Needs Assistance (ONA)
IHP ONA helps people affected by a disaster. It provides money, up to the program maximum, for necessary expenses and serious needs, not housing related, that can’t be met through other means. https://www.disasterassistance.gov/

Other needs assistance under IHP includes:

  • Personal property
  • Childcare
  • Medical and dental expenses
  • Funeral and burial costs
  • Transportation
To get help for disaster-related needs other than housing, all of the below must be true:
  • You have losses in a presidentially declared disaster area.
  • You have no insurance, or have filed an insurance claim but the damage isn’t covered, or your insurance settlement doesn’t cover all of your losses.
  • You or someone who lives with you is a U.S. citizen, a non-citizen national, or a qualified alien.
  • You have necessary expenses or serious needs because of the disaster.
  • You have accepted help from all other sources you qualify for, like insurance or Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loans.

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
After experiencing a flood, individuals need to contact their agent or insurance company to file a claim.  Decisions on loss are made by the insurer.  If there is a denial or a disputed decision, there are three options: 1) send an amended proof of loss with supporting documentation, 2) submit a formal appeal to FEMA, or 3) file a lawsuit against the insurer. 

FEMA Constituent Call-In Line (1-800-621-3362)
Constituents may call into this line (available in both English and Spanish) from 8am-5pm for FEMA Disaster Assistance.  I’ve called and made sure it is working.  Constituents may press “2” for assistance specifically with flood insurance.

US Postal Service
The USPS Change of Address allows an order to be entered to have mail forwarded to a new permanent or temporary address. This is helpful if an individual or business has been affected by a disaster and needs to have mail sent to a new address. http://about.usps.com/news/service-alerts/

Department of Labor
The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1974 authorizes the President to provide benefit assistance to individuals unemployed as a direct result of a major disaster. Under this authority, DOL oversees the Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program and coordinates with FEMA to provide funds to state agencies under cost agreements with the Secretary of Labor. DUA financial assistance is generally made available to individuals whose employment or self-employment has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of a major disaster and who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance benefits. DUA benefits are payable to individuals (whose unemployment continues to be a result of the major disaster) only for weeks of unemployment in the Disaster Assistance Period (DAP). The DAP begins with the first day of the week following the date the major disaster began and continues for up to 26 weeks after the date the disaster was declared by the President.  http://www.ows.doleta.gov/unemploy/disaster.asp