This is the main page for up-to-date resources and information on the federal response to Hurricane Michael. Follow the direction of state, local, and tribal officials. (Español)
Keep yourself and your family safe. Return home only if you are told it is safe by local officials. As you clear debris please look carefully around the debris for any visible cables. If you see any cables, wait for professional help. Power cables can kill easily.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Register for assistance online at DisasterAssistance.gov if you have damages not covered by insurance. Contact the Disaster Distress Helpline by texting TalkWithUs to 66746 or call 1-800-985-5990 (for Spanish, press 2 or text Hablanos to 66746) to speak with a trained crisis counselor.
- Practice food and water safety. Throw out all food left in refrigerators or that came in contact with flood waters. Drinking water may be contaminated so check to see if a boil water order is in effect for your area.
- Clean up safely. Return home only if you are told it is safe.
- Get started on your recovery. If you have insurance, and it’s safe to return home, call your insurance company to file a claim. Take photos and videos of all damages before you start cleaning up.
- Send money, not stuff. Cash can be used immediately in response to a crisis. A financial contribution to a recognized disaster relief organization is the most effective donation to make.
Below are a few simple guidelines to follow that will make the clean-up and salvage process safer and easier:
- 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.
- Always wear protective clothing including long-sleeved shirts, long pants, rubber or plastic gloves and waterproof boots or shoes.
- 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.
Points of distribution have FEMA and state provided supplies, including food and water that survivors can pick up for personal use. For a list of locations where survivors can obtain food and water, visit www.floridadisaster.org/info. FEMA is not writing checks to survivors at any locations.
Volunteer kitchens and food banks:
Volunteer mobile units and food trucks:
Points of distribution (POD):
Volunteer, faith-based and community groups:
- List of volunteer, faith-based, and community groups
- United Way of Florida
- Southern Baptist Disaster Relief
Neighbor helping neighbor:
Points of distribution (POD):
How to Help
When disaster strikes, every little bit helps. To make the most of your contributions, please follow our guidelines to learn the most effective and safest ways to donate cash, goods, or time following a disaster. To help people affected by the storm, visit National Voluntary Organizations Active in a Disaster (National VOAD) for a listed of trusted organizations:
- Cash is best. Financial contributions to recognized disaster relief organizations are the fastest, most flexible, and most effective method of donating. Organizations on the ground know what items and quantities are needed, often buy in bulk with discounts and, if possible, purchase through area businesses which supports economic recovery.
- Confirm donations needed. Critical needs change rapidly – confirm needed items BEFORE collecting; pack and label carefully; confirm delivery locations; and arrange transportation. Unsolicited goods NOT needed burden local organizations’ ability to meet survivors’ confirmed needs, drawing away valuable volunteer labor, transportation, and warehouse space.
- Connect to volunteer. Trusted organizations operating in the affected area know where volunteers are needed, and can ensure appropriate volunteer safety, training, and housing.
Beware of Fraud & Scams When Seeking Disaster Assistance
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:
- Federal and state workers never ask for, or acceptmoney, 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 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 your State's Office of the Attorney General.
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.
National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
Flood Insurance Information for Policyholders
This information will be helpful for people who have flood insurance through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program.
Protect your property from flood damage
National Flood Insurance Program policies will cover up to $1,000 in reasonable expenses incurred to protect your insured property, and up to $1,000 to move your insured property away from a flood or imminent danger of a flood. Actions taken might including using sandbags, or water pumps. Learn more and understand more about flood loss avoidance.
Document your property
Take photos and videos of your property from many angles before the hurricane strikes. Photograph appliances, furniture, and other valuable items—anything you might file a flood insurance claim for later if it’s damaged by flooding during the hurricane.
- DETERMINE YOUR FLOOD LOSS AND REPORT YOUR CLAIM: Once it’s deemed safe by local officials, and you ensured the gas and electricity lines have been turned off, examine your property to determine if there is flood damage. If there is, contact your agent or insurance company to start your flood insurance claim and ask for an Advance Payment to help you begin recovering. Then follow the steps explained below, or visit File Your Claim.
- START CLEANING UP, BUT DOCUMENT YOUR DAMAGE FIRST: Be sure to document your flood loss using photos and videos before you start cleaning up your home. Please keep in mind that as a FEMA flood insurance policyholder, it is your responsibility to minimize the growth and spread of mold as much as possible. Learn more about the Guidelines for Flood Clean Up for NFIP Policyholders.
- FILE FOR FEDERAL DISASTER ASSISTANCE: If there is a Presidential Disaster Declaration, file for federal disaster assistance too because you may be eligible for additional funds to help with things like temporary housing. Read more about why it can be beneficial to register for federal disaster assistance.
STEP 1: Start the Claims Process
After experiencing a flood, contact your agent or insurance company to start a claim and consider requesting an advance payment. Make sure you have the following information handy when speaking to your agent or insurance company:
- Policy Declarations page (official document detailing your flood insurance coverage), if available
- How you can be reached: Telephone phone number or alternate contact number; email address
- The insured property location
- The name of any mortgage company(s)
An adjuster should contact you within a few days of starting your claim. If you do not hear from an adjuster, you can contact your insurance agent or company again.
STEP 2: Prepare for your inspection
Before entering, make sure it’s safe to re-enter the building. Take photographs and videos of the damaged property, including items you plan to discard. As much as possible, your photos and videos should document the structural damage; standing floodwater levels (both inside and outside); and damage to appliances, furniture and other items before moving, removing or discarding anything. Your adjuster will need evidence of the damage to your home and possessions to prepare your repair estimate.
- For items like washers and dryers, hot water heaters, kitchen appliances, televisions, and computers, make sure you take a photograph of the make, model, and serial number.
- For your building items (e.g., flooring), retain samples such as carpet, wallpaper, and drapes for your adjuster’s inspection.
- Immediately throw away flooded content items that pose a health risk, such as perishable food items, clothing, cushions, pillows, etc. after photographing them.
- Contact repair services if the building’s electrical, water, or HVAC systems are damaged. It’s important to consult your adjuster or insurance company before you sign any agreement/contract with a cleaning, remediation, or maintenance contractor.
STEP 3: Work with your Adjuster
When your claims adjuster shows up, they should show you their official identification (Driver’s License and Company ID or Flood Control Number [FCN card]). They should also provide you with their contact information, such as their name, email, phone number, and the name of their adjusting firm, and their telephone number. When meeting with you, your adjuster should cover the following:
- An explanation of the NFIP Flood Claims Process.
- An inspection of your property—during which he/she will scope your loss by taking measurements and photos.
- An explanation of what an Advance Payment is and how or if you can get one.
- Information about how you should present your loss to your insurance company and a discussion about your policy coverage.
Read Important Information After Your Inspection to help prepare you for the visit.
STEP 4: Document Your Loss and Receive Payment
Your adjuster will help you document your flood damage for the claim. Here are some things you can do to support the claims process so it goes smoothly:
- Speak with your agent about your insurance policy, what it covers and read the Claims Handbook.
- Provide the photos and videos of your flood loss to your adjuster. It can be helpful to organize these by room.
- Keep documents showing how you repaired or replaced flood damaged items, such as receipts, bank statements, and contractor’s invoices. Provide these documents to your adjuster.
The adjuster will work with you to submit an accurate estimate of your flood loss. Be sure you ask your insurance company about any important deadlines you need to meet. This will help ensure you receive a claim payment that reflects your flood loss, within your policy limits.
Unsatisfied With Your Claim Payment?
Your flood insurance company is committed to ensuring that you receive the full amount you are entitled to under your flood policy. If you receive a letter from your flood insurance company denying all or part of your claim, or you would like to request an additional payment, you have several options to help make sure you receive the full amount due under your policy.
Need Additional Assistance?
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