Serving DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Okeechobee and Polk Counties

Disaster Resources

The following resources are available to residents of designated Florida counties including DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Okeechobee, and Polk to help with recovery from Hurricane Irma.

Updated 9/21/17

Quick Links

Hurricane Irma Rumor Control

United Way 211
Call 211 or visit 211.org to find local services and get help today with food and other needs.


Resources for Individuals

FEMA Individual Disaster Assistance

Residents in the region may now register for disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Individuals can register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, through the FEMA App, or call 800-621-3362.

You will need:

  • Social Security Number
  • Daytime phone
  • Current mailing address and zip and address and zip of damaged property
  • Private Insurance information if available

Operation Blue Roof

In disaster areas, Operation Blue Roof is a program for homeowners who have damage to their roofs. The program sends licensed contractors out to homes to cover the damage with fiber-reinforced plastic sheeting (tarp) until homeowners can arrange repairs.

Find locations here to begin the Blue Roof process. Times: Open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily

 

Disaster Unemployment Assistance

Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is available to Florida businesses and residents whose employment or self-employment was lost or interrupted as a result of Hurricane Irma.

FEMA Evacuee Hotel List

If you are eligible for Transitional Sheltering Assistance, FEMA will pay for the cost to stay in certain hotels or motels for a limited period of time. Costs covered are for the cost of the room and taxes, and any other expenses are not included.

Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP)

DCF is working with federal officials as emergency assessments are completed for Disaster SNAP (also known as Food for Florida). DCF proactively submitted an initial request to the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to activate Disaster SNAP in counties approved for FEMA for Individual Assistance. While Disaster SNAP is not currently active in Florida, DCF is communicating with the federal government to activate this program in eligible counties as soon as possible. The most up-to-date and accurate information on SNAP benefits and changes will be posted on the ACCESS Florida webpage.

IRS Special tax relief and assistance is available to taxpayers in the Presidential Disaster Areas

The declaration permits the IRS to postpone certain deadlines for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. For instance, certain deadlines falling on or after Sept. 4, 2017 and before Jan. 31, 2018, are granted additional time to file through Jan. 31, 2018. This includes taxpayers who had a valid extension to file their 2016 return that was due to run out on Oct. 16, 2017. It also includes the quarterly estimated income tax payments originally due on Sept. 15, 2017 and Jan. 16, 2018, and the quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due on Oct. 31, 2017. It also includes tax-exempt organizations that operate on a calendar-year basis and had an automatic extension due to run out on Nov. 15, 2017. In addition, penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits due on or after Sept. 4, 2017, and before Sept. 19, 2017, will be abated as long as the deposits are made by Sept. 19, 2017.

SBA Federal Disaster Loans for Homeowners, and Renters

Disaster survivors who need information on grant programs for homeowners and renters should visit FEMA’s Individual Assistance page.

Airbnb Lodging

This program will facilitate free temporary housing in Northern Florida and Southern Georgia to Evacuees to aid Floridians evacuating their homes and relief workers arriving to assist in response to Hurricane Irma.


Stay Safe

Keep in mind, after a disaster scam artist, identity thieves and other criminals may attempt to prey on vulnerable survivors. The most common post-disaster fraud practices include phony housing inspectors, fraudulent building contractors, bogus pleas for disaster donations and fake offers of state or federal aid.

  • FEMA does not authorize individual contractors to solicit on its behalf.  Beware of any individual contractors contacting you directly on behalf of FEMA to sign you up for debris removal or remediation services.
  • If you have any concerns about individuals representing themselves as FEMA or would like to report fraud, please contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud at (866) 720-5721 or via email at disaster@leo.gov.
  • Federal and state workers never ask for or accept money, and always carry identification badges
  • There is NO FEE required to apply for or to get disaster assistance from FEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration or the state
  • Scam attempts can be made over the phone, by mail or email, text or in person

Resources for Local, State, Tribal and Private Non-Profit

FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) grant program

Provides federal assistance to government organizations and certain private nonprofit (PNP) organizations following a Presidential disaster declaration.


Resources for Business

SBA Disaster Loan Assistance

Businesses and private nonprofit organizations of any size may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace disaster damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory, and other business assets. Applicants may be eligible for a loan amount increase up to 20 percent of their physical damages, as verified by the SBA for mitigation purposes. Eligible mitigation improvements may include a safe room or storm shelter to help protect property and occupants from future damage caused by a similar disaster.

To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, applicants should register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by mobile device at m.fema.gov. If online or mobile access is unavailable, applicants should call the FEMA toll-free helpline at 800-621-3362. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services should call 800-621-3362.

The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Nov. 9, 2017. The deadline to return economic injury applications is June 11, 2018.

Florida Small Business Development Center Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program 

This program provides a source of expedient cash flow to Florida small businesses that have been physically and/or economically impacted by the storm. 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 long-term recovery resources, such as sufficient profits from a revived business, receipt of payments on insurance claims or federal disaster assistance.

Applications for this program must be completed by Oct. 31, 2017; apply online at www.floridadisasterloan.org. For more information about the bridge loan, contact the Florida Small Business Development Center Network at 850-898-3489 or email Disaster@FloridaSBDC.org.

Highlands County – A Business Recovery Center (BRC) operated by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is now open in Highlands County to help local businesses impacted by Hurricane Irma. SBA representatives in the centers provide information about disaster loans, answer questions and assist businesses in completing the SBA application. The Highlands County center is co-located with the FEMA Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) at the Bert J. Harris Agricultural Center located at 4509 W. George Blvd., in Sebring. The BRC begins today and it remains open until further notice. The operating hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

IRS Special tax relief and assistance is available to taxpayers in the Presidential Disaster Areas

The declaration permits the IRS to postpone certain deadlines for taxpayers who reside or have a business in the disaster area. For instance, certain deadlines falling on or after Sept. 4, 2017 and before Jan. 31, 2018, are granted additional time to file through Jan. 31, 2018. This includes taxpayers who had a valid extension to file their 2016 return that was due to run out on Oct. 16, 2017. It also includes the quarterly estimated income tax payments originally due on Sept. 15, 2017 and Jan. 16, 2018, and the quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due on Oct. 31, 2017. It also includes tax-exempt organizations that operate on a calendar-year basis and had an automatic extension due to run out on Nov. 15, 2017. In addition, penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits due on or after Sept. 4, 2017, and before Sept. 19, 2017, will be abated as long as the deposits are made by Sept. 19, 2017.