GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Hurricane Irma has done her worst, and now residents are left to pick up the pieces. But, help is available if residents act quickly, said Gene McAvoy, University of Florida IFAS Extension Hendry County director.
“While people will be in shock after the hurricane hits, it is vitally important that they get all of the help they will need,” McAvoy said. He offers the following tips:
- File with FEMA, and get your FEMA number ASAP! You will need it for everything. Download the FEMA app now. They prefer that you register online rather than by phone.
- File a claim with both your homeowners’ and flood insurance. Even if you don’t have flood insurance, a homeowners’ policy will cover some wind damage, and most of them will give you money for “loss of use” if you can’t live in your house.
- File for disaster food stamps (D-SNAP). Anyone in the affected areas can get them. Do not be proud; you can use the money you save on food to replace clothes and other necessities.
- File for Disaster Unemployment Assistance. If you can’t live in your house or go to work because your work is closed or flooded, this applies to you.
- Get rental assistance. FEMA and The Small Business Administration (SBA) provide rental assistance to help pay for a place to live until you can get back into your house or find a new one.
- If you want to buy a house, apply for an SBA loan. The interest rates will be very cheap. Although it is called the SBA, it is for homeowners, too.
- The Salvation Army and American Red Cross will sometimes give away money as well. Just call them and apply.
- Check local businesses for specials and discounts for people in the affected flood areas. Businesses will offer everything from half-price pizza to furniture and clothing specials.
- Call all of your bill collectors and notify them that you are in the affected area and/or that your house flooded. Most will delay your bill due dates for a month or two. This includes bills for mortgages, cable, electricity, water, credit cards, phone etc.
- Most importantly, allow people to help you. They want to, and you need the help.
For more information, visit https://www.fema.gov/
The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.