Hurricane Irma

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Hurricane Irma was one of the most powerful storms ever recorded, prompting one of the largest evacuations in U.S. history.

This massive storm affected every part of our state. And as we clean up and rebuild, I encourage every Floridian affected by this storm to apply for assistance with FEMA as soon as possible.  You may be eligible for financial help or even direct assistance for things such as temporary housing, medical and moving expenses, and more. 

It’s important that you get your FEMA claim in as soon as possible, without delay.

To apply for FEMA assistance visit: www.disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362) TTY: 1-800-462-7585.

Please take a few minutes to review the information provided below. You may be eligible for other temporary assistance and benefits. 

As I travel around our state, I am heartened by the stories I am hearing over and over again of Floridians helping Floridians. I encourage you to share this information with your friends and neighbors as we work together to rebuild our state.

EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE

If you need emergency help call 9-1-1.

BASIC SUPPLIES

If you need supplies, such as food, water, or ice, please contact your county emergency management at: http://www.floridadisaster.org/fl_county_em.asp or by phone at (850) 815-4001 for the location of the nearest distribution center.  Your county emergency management can provide up-to-date information about shelters and local distribution centers for food and supplies.

FEMA ASSISTANCE

Floridians affected by Hurricane Irma should apply for assistance with FEMA as soon as their county is granted Individual Assistance.  Financial help and direct services may be available from FEMA for temporary housing, medical and moving expenses, and more.

To apply, visit: www.disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362).  For a list of counties approved for Individual Assistance, visit: https://www.fema.gov/disaster/4337#.

HELP FOR SENIORS

If you know of a senior who needs assistance, call the Florida Department of Elder Affairs hotline at 1-800-96-ELDER (1-800-963-5337).  To report elder abuse, call 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873).

HELP FOR VETERANS

Veterans in need of assistance or in need of their medication can contact the Veteran Disaster Hotline at 1-800-507-4571 or go to any VA medical facility for assistance.

MENTAL HEALTH

If you or someone you know is experiencing emotional distress please call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained counselor. You may also visit: http://bit.ly/2vH2Huc for more information about managing stress after a disaster and talking with children about traumatic events.

TAX RELIEF

Floridians in counties granted Individual Assistance may be eligible for tax relief from the IRS. To learn more about IRS assistance for victims of Hurricane Irma visit: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/help-for-victims-of-hurricane-irma.

DISASTER RECOVERY LOANS

The U.S. Small Business Administration is providing various disaster loans to qualifying Floridians in several counties. For more information about SBA disaster loans visit: https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/hurricane-irma

The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides loans to qualifying individuals, businesses, and communities after disasters.  For more information visit: https://www.usda.gov/topics/disaster/storms, or contact the USDA office in Florida at: (352) 338-3400.

DISASTER UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE

Floridians who are unemployed as a result of the disaster, and who are ineligible for regular state unemployment insurance, are encouraged to apply for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) through the U.S. Department of Labor. For additional information about DUA visit: https://workforcesecurity.doleta.gov/unemploy/disaster.asp or contact the U.S. Department of Labor by phone at 1-866-487-2365.

MEDICARE AND MEDICAID ENROLLMENT:

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is establishing the following special enrollment periods for Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands:  

  • Medicare special enrollment period:  This special enrollment period will allow individuals affected by these hurricanes to enroll, dis-enroll or switch Medicare health or prescription drug plans. It is available at the start of the incident period and runs through the end of the calendar year. Individuals may contact 1-800-MEDICARE to request enrollment using this special enrollment opportunity. 
  • Federal Health Insurance Exchange special enrollment period:  CMS created this special enrollment period for certain individuals impacted by these hurricanes who need to enroll in a 2017 plan through the Exchange or make changes to their existing 2017 plan. This special enrollment period will apply to individuals who experienced a special enrollment period qualifying event between 60 days prior to the start date of the incident period and December 31, 2017, but the agency was unable to complete the application, plan selection, and enrollment process due to a hurricane-related weather event in 2017. This special enrollment period will allow individuals impacted by the storms to select a new 2017 Exchange plan or make changes to their existing plan at any time through December 31, 2017. Individuals affected by the storms may contact the Exchange Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 to enroll in a plan.

In addition to the special enrollment periods for the 2017, individuals who reside in or move from areas affected by a hurricane in 2017 will be eligible for a special enrollment period that extends the 2018 Annual Open Enrollment Period through December 31, 2017. These individuals may contact the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 to request enrollment using this special enrollment period after December 15, 2017. 

These special enrollment opportunities are in addition to the Medicare and Exchange annual Open Enrollment Periods this fall and any other enrollment period for which the individual may be eligible. CMS will continue to examine the circumstances in the areas affected by hurricanes and will consider taking action that reaches beyond December 31, 2017, if needed.  

For more information on special enrollment periods for Medicare, click here.

For more information on special enrollment periods for the Health Insurance Exchange, click here.

The agency continues to update its emergency page with important information on its efforts to support hurricane response and recovery efforts.

MORTGAGE RELIEF

To find out if you qualify for temporary mortgage relief, such as a suspension of mortgage payments for up to 12 months, or suspension of late fees, visit the Freddie Mac website at: http://www.freddiemac.com/about/hurricane-relief.html.  For additional information visit the Fannie Mae website at: http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/about-fm/hurricane-relief.html or by phone at 1-800-2FANNIE (800-232-6643).

HURRICANE RESPONSE HIRING

The U.S. Small Business Administration is hiring a variety of temporary positions located throughout Florida now through December 31, 2017.  For more information visit: https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/hurricane-response-jobs-sba#section-header-4

ADDITIONAL ASSISTANCE

For in-person assistance with storm related questions, or to apply for benefits you may visit your local FEMA Disaster Recovery Center. For a list of Centers in your area visit: http://asd.fema.gov/inter/locator/home.htm

You may also contact me by e-mail at: IrmaAssistance@billnelson.senate.gov, by phone toll free in Florida at 1-888-671-4091, or stop by any of my offices.