Hurricane Michael Updates


Florida Disaster Overview

The president issued a major disaster declaration, including Individual and Public Assistance, for Florida (DR-4399). Other helpful information for Hurricane Michael recovery in Florida can be found HERE, as well as HERE.

Homeowners and renters in the following counties are eligible to apply for assistance under FEMA’s individual and Households Program: Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Leon, Liberty, Taylor, Wakulla, Washington Counties. For more information about the types of assistance available through the Individual Assistance program, see the Individuals & Households Program Fact Sheet.

This includes assistance provided by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to businesses, nonprofits, homeowners and renters.

Individuals, including homeowners and renters, in the above designated counties who suffered loss or damages due to Hurricane Michael may register for assistance online HERE, by downloading FEMA Mobile App HERE, or by calling 800-621-3362. For those who use 711 or Video Relay Service, 800-621-3362. TTY is 800-462-7585.

Disaster Recovery Centers offer in-person support to help Florida residents through the assistance process. DRCs are open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time. For a list of centers visit HERE.

Businesses may apply directly to the SBA online using the Electronic Loan Application at the SBA’s website HERE. For additional details on the locations of disaster recovery centers, business recovery centers, and information on the loan-application process, call the SBA Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or emailing to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.


State of Florida Resources for Businesses

The State of Florida offers affected businesses a wide range of disaster assistance and information.

FloridaDisaster.biz, a partnership between the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and the Florida Division of Emergency Management, is a new website developed to provide businesses, small and large, easy access to critical information before, during and after a disaster. Visit FloridaDisaster.biz to fill out and submit a Business Damage Assessment Survey and/or get information on numerous disaster-recovery programs and resources, including the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program, Microfinance and State Small Business Credit Initiative programs, the Disaster Dislocated Worker Program, Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Labor Market information, and the Employ Florida Disaster Recovery Jobs Portal. Please see the attached fact sheet for more information about many of these programs.

Businesses that need assistance may also call the Florida Private Sector Hotline at 850-815-4925 or email ESF18@em.myflorida.com.

DISASTER UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE

Disaster Unemployment Assistance is available to Florida residents whose employment or self-employment was lost or interrupted as a result of Hurricane Michael.

Workers can apply if they worked/were self-employed or were scheduled to begin work/self-employment and are not able to work or perform services because of physical damage or destruction to their places of employment as a direct result of the disaster.

The deadline for Florida residents to apply is Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018.

To file a DUA claim, go to www.FloridaJobs.org or call 1-800-385-3920. Customer service representatives are available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. EST to assist claimants. For DUA claims information, call 800-204-2418 and select the "speak to an agent" option.

FLORIDA SMALL BUSINESS EMERGENCY BRIDGE LOAN PROGRAM

The Bridge Loan Program supports businesses impacted by Hurricane Michael by providing short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses that had physical or economic damage directly from Michael. The program bridges the gap between the time a major catastrophe hits and when a business has secured longer-term recovery resources, such as payments on insurance claims or federal disaster assistance.

Applications must be completed by Friday, Dec. 7, 2018; apply at HERE. For more information, contact the Florida Small Business Development Center Network at 866-737-7232 or email Disaster@FloridaSBDC.org.

Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network

For affected businesses to receive on-site assistance with preparing disaster-loan applications and other post-disaster challenges, the Florida SBDC Network, in partnership with SBA, establishes temporary business recovery centers. Find BRC locations and hours HERE.

The Florida SBDC Network has also established a business-disaster hotline for questions at 850-898-3479 (toll-free at 866-737-7232). Email inquiries to Disaster@FloridaSBDC.org.

How to Help

Neighbors helping neighbors is a crucial step in the recovery process. Companies, organizations and volunteer groups looking to help can learn more at www.volunteerflorida.org.

Agriculture

Florida farmers and ranchers who suffered livestock mortality and/or damage to working lands due to Hurricane Michael are encouraged to sign up for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program /EQIP) through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Agricultural producers in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Leon, Liberty, Wakulla, and Washington counties are eligible to apply for assistance. The first sign-up period ends Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. A second sign-up period will end Friday, Dec. 14, 2018. This assistance does not apply to local governments or other entities.

Conservation practices available through EQIP can protect your land from erosion, support disaster recovery and repair, and help mitigate loss from future events. Visit a local NRCS office to sign up. Bonifay, Marianna, and Quincy field offices are open to serve producers in Calhoun, Franklin, Gulf, and Liberty counties until the Blountstown Field Office is repaired.

For more information on NRCS and the EQIP program, visit the Florida NRCS website. For more information on disaster assistance programs for farmers and ranchers, visit HERE.

Through its new website Farmers.gov, the USDA recently launched a disaster assistance discovery tool that walks producers through five questions to help them identify personalized results of disaster assistance programs. For more information on disaster assistance programs for farmers and ranchers available from USDA, visit HERE.


Other Helpful Information

Disaster Legal Services

A legal-aid hotline is available for Hurricane Michael survivors in Florida who cannot pay for an attorney: The hotline operates through a partnership including The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division, the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, and FEMA.

Caller (in English and Spanish) can leave a message to ask for storm-related legal assistance and to provide their name, telephone number, county of residence and a description of their legal problems.

Assistance through this hotline is available to qualified Floridians affected by Hurricane Michael in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty, Taylor, Wakulla and Washington counties. Free legal help can involve:

  • Securing FEMA and other benefits.
  • Making life, medical and property-insurance claims.
  • Dealing with home-repair contractors.
  • Replacing wills and other important legal documents destroyed in the hurricane.
  • Helping with consumer-protection matters, remedies and procedures.
  • Counseling on mortgage-foreclosure problems or landlord/tenant issues.

Callers can leave a message on the hotline at any time. Calls will be returned within two business days between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. There are some limitations.

Counseling Support

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Disaster Distress Helpline assists survivors coping with stress. To connect with a trained crisis counselor, call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 (for Spanish, text Hablanos to 66746).


Donations

Hurricane Michael has forever changed our homes and our neighbors in the Florida’s Panhandle. With 75% of Jackson County homes being deemed damages, uninhabitable or destroyed, our residents and business community will be in need of assistance for weeks, months and possibly years to come. Your financial contribution to the official Jackson County Hurricane Relief Fund will help provide ongoing support for the residents of Alford, Bascom, Campbellton, Cottondale, Graceville, Grand Ridge, Greenwood, Jacob City, Malone, Marianna, Sneads and the surrounding communities. Funds will be directed by the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, to be used to rebuild and support our beautiful community. Donate now HERE and share this page with friends and family.


Consumer Tips

Be Wary of Fly-By-Nigh Repair Companies!
  • Hire only licensed professionals.
  • Be cautious of people coming door-to-door or robo calls.
  • If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is and could be fraud.

Trust But Verify The Information You're Given
  • Verify a contractor's license by calling the Department of Business and Professional Regulation at 1-850-487-1395
  • Confirm that a contract has workers' compensation insurance and liability coverage by calling the Department of Financial Services at 1-800-742-2214.

Don't Rush Into Signing!
  • Carefully read all documents, including assignment of benefit agreements, that you're asked to sign.
  • Call your insurer.
  • Ask questions until you're comfortable with the contract.
  • Ask who is responsible for payment -- you or your insurance company.

Report Suspected Fraud Right Away!
  • Notify law enforcement of suspicious behavior!
  • Call the Department of Financial Services toll-free anti-fraud hotline at 1-800-378-0045.

For more information, call Florida’s free insurance helpline: 877-693-5236.


Post Hurricane Michael Opportunity - Request for Information

Following Hurricane Michael, there have been some misconceptions about the areas of Florida that were impacted by the storm. VISIT FLORIDA requests that all tourism businesses located in Bay, Calhoun, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Taylor, Wakulla, Walton, and Washington counties constantly submit blog posts to communicate business openings, coming soonmessages, upcoming events and other destination-specific information to help visitors make informed travel decisions.

We also encourage you to make contact with Christy Andreasen, Executive Director, Jackson County Tourist Development Council. Ms. Andreasen is working directly with Visit Florida and is a great source of information regarding resources and grant opportunities for tourism related businesses. You may reach her via email at candreasen@jacksoncountyfl.com.