Emergency Preparedness

Hurricane Irma

Access to Disaster Recovery Assistance

Ways to Register
  • Online: www.DisasterAssistance.gov
  • In person: Visit a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC). Download the FEMA App to find the nearest location.   
Information You'll Need
  • Social Security Number
  • Address of the damaged home or apartment
  • Description of the damage
  • Information about insurance coverage
  • A current contact telephone number
  • An address where you can receive mail
  • Bank account and routing numbers for direct deposit of funds
What to Expect After You Apply

Once homeowners register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a FEMA housing inspector will call to schedule an inspection for those living in designated counties. Here’s what survivors need to know about the inspection process:

  • The FEMA inspector will show a photo ID badge.
  • If you are not shown photo identification, then do not allow the inspection.
  • If you suspect someone is posing as a FEMA inspector, call your local law enforcement agency.
  • You may receive visits from more than one inspector. Other inspectors may represent federal, state, parish and local government agencies, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the National Flood Insurance Program and/or insurance companies.       
  • Representatives of volunteer agencies may contact you to offer their services.

Before the FEMA inspection, it’s important that you know:

  • An adult 18 or older who lived in the residence before the disaster must be present for the inspection.
  • That person must have the following documents:
    • Photo identification;
    • Proof of ownership and occupancy of the damaged residence such as: property tax bill; mortgage payment bill or receipt, or utility service bill;
    • Homeowner and vehicle insurance documents;
    • List of persons living in residence at time of disaster that you compiled; and
    • List of disaster damage to the home and its contents that you compiled.
Tips for Clean-Up

Below are a few simple guidelines to follow that will make the clean-up and salvage process safer and easier:

Returning Home

  • Always wear protective clothing including long-sleeved shirts, long pants, rubber or plastic gloves and waterproof boots or shoes.
  • Before entering your home, look outside for damaged power lines, gas lines and other exterior damage.
  • Take photos of your damage before you begin clean up and save repair receipts.
  • Your home may be contaminated with mold, which raises the health risk for those with asthma, allergies and breathing conditions. Refer to the Center for Disease Control for more info on mold: www.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/pdf/flyer-get-rid-of-mold.pdf.
  • Open doors and windows so your house can air out before spending any length of time inside.
  • Turn off main electrical power and water systems and don’t use gas appliances until a professional can ensure they are safe.
  • Check all ceilings and floors for signs of sagging or other potentially dangerous structural damage.
  • Throw out all foods, beverages and medicines exposed to flood waters or mud including canned goods and containers with food or liquid.
  • Also, throw out any items that absorb water and cannot be cleaned or disinfected (mattresses, carpeting, stuffed animals, etc.).
  • Beware of snakes, insects, and other animals that may be on your property or in your home.
  • Remove all drywall and insulation that has been in contact with flood waters.
  • Clean all hard surfaces (flooring, countertops, appliances, sinks, etc.) thoroughly with hot water and soap or detergent.
Beware of Fraud and Price Gouging

After a disaster scam artists, 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.

Survivors should keep in mind:

  • 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

Price Gouging

Price gouging occurs when a supplier marks up the price of an item more than is justified by his actual costs. Survivors are particularly susceptible because their needs are immediate, and have few alternatives to choose from. If you find price gouging, contact you the Florida State Office of the Attorney General.

Report Price Gouging

Dealing with Contractors:

Survivors should take steps to protect themselves and avoid fraud when hiring contractors to clean property, remove debris or make repairs.

Simple rules to avoid becoming a victim of fraud:

  • Only use contractors licensed by your state
  • Get a written estimate and get more than one estimate
  • Demand and check references
  • Ask for proof of insurance
    • i.e., liability and Workmen's Compensation
  • Insist on a written contract and refuse to sign a contract with blank spaces
  • Get any guarantees in writing
  • Make final payments only after the work is completed
  • Pay by check.

The best way to avoid fraud is to arm yourself against it by having a checklist to remind you of what you need to demand when hiring a contractor.


 

AFTER THE HURRICANE

  • Avoid debris, downed power lines, and flood water, which may be electrically charged and hide dangerous debris or places where the ground is washed away. Avoid downed power or utility lines as they may be live with deadly voltage. Stay away and report them immediately to your power or utility company.
  • Emergency workers may be assisting people in flooded areas or cleaning up debris. You can help them by staying off the roads and out of the way as much as possible.
  • If your home has flood water inside or around it, don’t walk or wade in it.The water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage.
  • If you have a flooded basement in your home, never attempt to turn off power or operate circuit breakers while standing in water.
  • If your power is out, safely use a generator or battery-operated flashlights.
  • Never use a generator inside a home, basement, shed or garage even if doors and windows are open.
  • Keep generators outside and far away from windows, doors and vents. Read both the label on your generator and the owner's manual and follow the instructions.
  • Avoid plugging emergency generators into electric outlets or hooking them directly to your home's electrical system – they can feed electricity back into the power lines, putting you and line workers in danger.

TIPS FOR CLEANUP

Below are a few simple guidelines to follow that will make the clean-up and salvage process safer and easier:

  • Always wear protective clothing including long-sleeved shirts, long pants, rubber or plastic gloves and waterproof boots or shoes.
  • Before entering your home, look outside for damaged power lines, gas lines and other exterior damage.
  • Take photos of your damage before you begin clean up and save repair receipts.
  • Your home may be contaminated with mold, which raises the health risk for those with asthma, allergies and breathing conditions. Refer to the Center for Disease Control for more info on mold: www.cdc.gov/disasters/hurricanes/pdf/flyer-get-rid-of-mold.pdf.
  • Open doors and windows so your house can air out before spending any length of time inside.
  • Turn off main electrical power and water systems and don’t use gas appliances until a professional can ensure they are safe.
  • Check all ceilings and floors for signs of sagging or other potentially dangerous structural damage.
  • Throw out all foods, beverages and medicines exposed to flood waters or mud including canned goods and containers with food or liquid.
  • Also, throw out any items that absorb water and cannot be cleaned or disinfected (mattresses, carpeting, stuffed animals, etc.).
  • Beware of snakes, insects, and other animals that may be on your property or in your home.
  • Remove all drywall and insulation that has been in contact with flood waters.
  • Clean all hard surfaces (flooring, countertops, appliances, sinks, etc.) thoroughly with hot water and soap or detergent.

BEWARE OF FRAUD AND PRICE GOURGING

After a disaster scam artists, 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.

Survivors should keep in mind:

  • 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

Price Gouging

Price gouging occurs when a supplier marks up the price of an item more than is justified by his actual costs. Survivors are particularly susceptible because their needs are immediate, and have few alternatives to choose from. If you find price gouging, contact you the Florida State Office of the Attorney General.

Report Price Gouging

Dealing with Contractors:

Survivors should take steps to protect themselves and avoid fraud when hiring contractors to clean property, remove debris or make repairs.

Simple rules to avoid becoming a victim of fraud:

  • Only use contractors licensed by your state
  • Get a written estimate and get more than one estimate
  • Demand and check references
  • Ask for proof of insurance
    • i.e., liability and Workmen's Compensation
  • Insist on a written contract and refuse to sign a contract with blank spaces
  • Get any guarantees in writing
  • Make final payments only after the work is completed
  • Pay by check.

The best way to avoid fraud is to arm yourself against it by having a checklist to remind you of what you need to demand when hiring a contractor.

 

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