ORLANDO — Floridians impacted by Hurricane Irma have only two weeks to apply for federal disaster assistance that may cover temporary housing, essential home repairs and serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance.
Disaster assistance is available to eligible individuals and households in the 48 disaster-designated counties with storm-related damages between Sept. 4 through Oct. 18, 2017. Survivors who suffered losses between those dates are encouraged to register as soon as possible. The deadline to apply for assistance is Thursday, Nov. 9.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) closed the incident period for individuals to report storm damage from Hurricane Irma Oct. 18, 2017. Damage resulting from Hurricane Irma and its aftermath after the closing date will not be covered by the disaster declaration. To date, more than 2.5 million people have applied for assistance.
FEMA assistance may include grants to help homeowners and renters pay for:
• Temporary housing for those displaced from their disaster-damaged primary homes.
• Essential repairs to owner-occupied primary homes including structural components such as foundation, exterior walls and roof, and interior areas such as ceiling and floors.
• Replacement of personal property including specialized tools for employment, household items, appliances and vehicle repair or replacement.
• Other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance including medical, dental, moving and child-care expenses and funeral and transportation expenses.
Hurricane survivors should register for assistance even if they have insurance. FEMA cannot duplicate insurance payments, but underinsured applicants may receive help after their claims have been settled.
Applying for disaster assistance is a two-step process that ensures consideration for all FEMA programs and the U.S. Small Business Administration low-interest disaster loans. First, register with FEMA. Then complete and return the SBA loan application, if referred to the SBA.
The quickest way to apply for federal assistance is online at www.disasterassistance.gov. Survivors may also apply by phone at 800-621-3362 (Voice, 711 or VRS) or 800-462-7585 (TTY). Due to high demand, lines may be busy during the day. Try calling in the morning or evening when call volume may be lower. The FEMA Helpline numbers are open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. (ET), seven days a week until further notice.
FEMA grants do not have to be repaid. FEMA assistance is nontaxable and will not affect eligibility for Social Security, Medicaid or other federal benefits.
Next to insurance, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest disaster loans are the survivor’s primary source of funding for disaster recovery. For more information about SBA’s low-interest disaster loans, visit www.sba.gov/disaster.