Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc on Southwest Florida. While Sarasota and Manatee counties were spared a direct hit, the damage to our local community has been extensive—from flooding in South Sarasota County to widespread power outages and connectivity problems.
Below, please find a list of resources for how to get back on your feet following the storm. We’ll continue to update this list as help becomes available. Please share it anyone who needs it—and remember, Legal Aid of Manasota is here to help however we can.
For the latest Hurricane Ian recovery updates — including where to get food and water — in Sarasota County, go to scgov.net.
For the latest Hurricane Ian recovery efforts in Manatee County, go to mymanatee.org
Survivors in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties can apply for disaster assistance at www.disasterassistance.gov, by calling (800) 621-3362 from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST, or by using the FEMA mobile app. If you use a relay service such as video relay service (VRS), captioned telephone service or others, give FEMA the number for that service. When you apply for assistance, have the following information ready:
- A current phone number where you can be contacted
- Your address at the time of the disaster and the address where you are now staying
- Your Social Security number
- A 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
Survivors may be eligible to receive assistance for uninsured and underinsured damage and losses resulting from Hurricane Ian. If you have homeowners, renters or flood insurance, you should file a claim as soon as possible. FEMA cannot duplicate benefits for losses covered by insurance. If your policy does not cover all your disaster expenses, you may be eligible for federal assistance.
Take photos to document damage and begin cleanup and repairs to prevent further damage. Remember to keep receipts from all purchases related to the cleanup and repair. Disaster assistance may include financial help with temporary lodging and home repairs, as well as other disaster-related expenses.
Disability Rights Florida is available to help with disaster-related housing issues and shelter accessibility concerns that involve disability. Those with disabilities can contact the office at 800-342-0823 or can complete an online intake at disabilityrightsflorida.org/contact/intake_form/
The Florida Bar’s Hurricane Information Page
The Florida Bar’s Hurricane Information page at floridabar.org/hurricaneinfo provides information and contacts for legal assistance and other consumer resources. The following are additional resources that Floridians can access to help protect themselves and their families before, during, and after a storm.
Florida Free Legal Answers
Hundreds of attorneys in Florida have signed up to volunteer through Florida Free Legal Answers, florida.freelegalanswers.org, a cooperative effort between The Florida Bar and the American Bar Association. The program operates as an online advice clinic to match low-income Floridians with licensed attorneys who can answer basic legal questions relating to the storm, such as property damage, landlord issues, family law matters, and other legal issues.
FEMA Legal Assistance Hotline: 866-550-2929
The Florida Bar’s Young Lawyers Division has activated the Disaster Legal Services Hotline at flayld.org/FEMA to answer legal questions from impacted hurricane victims on a pro-bono basis, in conjunction with the ABA’s Young Lawyers Section and Federal Emergency Management Agency at 1-866-550-2929. The service provides qualifying residents with storm-related legal help across a range of topics including securing FEMA and other benefits; assistance with life, medical, and property insurance claims; help with home repair contracts and contractors; replacement of wills and other important legal documents destroyed in the storm; assistance with consumer protection matters; and counseling on landlord/tenant problems.
Counties covered under the disaster declaration include Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Flagler, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Orange, Osceola, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, and Volusia. The Seminole Tribe of Florida has been included in the federal disaster declaration.
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation provides an insurance resources webpage with useful information and links including consumer alerts, links to other state agencies and hurricane claims data information. Call the insurance consumer hotline (877) 693-5236.
Disaster Distress Helpline: 800-985-5990
The Disaster Distress Helpline, accessible at (800) 985-5990, offers crisis counseling for people in distress related to the disaster.
If you need assistance with damage from Hurricane Ian, Crisis Cleanup has activated. Call (800) 451-1952 to be connected with volunteers from organizations who may be able to help. The service will be open through Oct. 28, 2022.
Clean and Sanitize Assistance
Florida has been approved for Clean and Sanitize Assistance (CSA) for qualifying Individual Assistance recipients. This includes those who are renters. In order to receive CSA:
- The pre-disaster primary residence is in an area designated for Individual Assistance.
- Based on a FEMA inspection, the applicant has disaster damage recorded or, for renters, noted clean-up actions are needed or have been taken.
- The damage is not covered by the applicant’s insurance.
- FEMA determines the applicant’s disaster-damaged primary residence is safe to occupy. CSA is limited to $300 per eligible household and CSA will be awarded as a one-time payment
DCF Family Resource Support Centers
The Department of Children and Families’ Family Resource Support Centers serve as a central hub for the community to access needed resources and support. DCF has staff on site, including Hope Navigators, behavioral health partners who specialize in disaster recovery response, and public benefit eligibility specialists to help individuals and families. DCF will continue to work with local organizations and partners across the state to expand the array of resources that are available to help meet the needs of impacted families. Hours are 8 a.m.-8 p.m.; in Manatee County, families can access services in Palmetto at Azinger Family Compassion Center, 3478 Bouwer Court. For more information, click here: myflfamilies.com
FPL Relief Sites
Florida Power & Light has set up a number of “relief sites” where people can charge their phones, get ice and water and more. To find one near you, click here: fplmaps.com/reliefsites.html
Disaster Unemployment Assistance
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is available to Florida businesses and residents in FEMA disaster-declared counties—Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Flagler, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Orange, Osceola, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, and Volusia—whose employment or self-employment was lost or interrupted as a direct result of Hurricane Ian and are not eligible for regular state or Federal Reemployment Assistance benefits.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance is available to those who are ineligible to receive federal or state Reemployment Assistance benefits and the individual meets one of the following requirements:
- Is unemployed as a direct result of the major disaster;
- Was scheduled to start employment but was unable to as a direct result of the major disaster;
- Is unable to reach their job or self-employment location because the individual has to travel through an affected area and is prevented from doing so as a direct result of the major disaster;
- Has become the primary breadwinner because the head of the household died as a direct result of the major disaster; or
- Is unable to work because of an injury that was a direct result of the major disaster.
To file a claim, go to floridajobs.org and select “File a Claim”; visit a local CareerSource Career Center; or call 1-800-385-3920. Customer service representatives are available Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. EST to assist claimants. For DUA claims information, call 1-833-352-7759 to speak with a representative. Individuals must file for state Reemployment Assistance benefits before filing for DUA. During the application, claimants should indicate they have been impacted by the disaster. Claimants who are determined ineligible or who have exhausted Reemployment Assistance benefits will be automatically prompted to file a DUA application if they indicated on their Reemployment Assistance application that their employment was impacted by the disaster.