LAKE MARY, Fla. – FEMA continues to schedule open public forums throughout Southwest Florida in its mission to inform hurricane survivors of available state and federal recovery programs. Over the past three months, FEMA has supported more than 100 community meetings throughout a 20-county area in which Subject Matter Experts were available to discuss programs, state initiatives, disaster assistance, community resources, and updates. These public events have been a way for people to learn more about how to best prepare for the next storm, receive answers to questions regarding the National Flood Insurance Program, and clear up confusion surrounding storm debris removal from personal property.
The meetings ensure FEMA meets people where they are. For many survivors who were not able to travel to a Disaster Recovery Center due to work or other constraints, some events were held at offices and work locations during the lunch hour. Other meetings took place in the evenings at art markets, town halls, and church socials.
The events were scheduled wherever requested; however, multiple public forums have taken place in DeSoto, Hillsborough, Lee, Monroe, Polk, Seminole and Volusia counties. FEMA also supported virtual meetings sponsored by the state of Florida to discuss temporary housing options and has partnered with the Polk County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to organize public meetings in historically underserved communities. American Sign Language interpreters have been present when requested and public forums have been held solely for the deaf and hard of hearing community.
FEMA also supports open public forums in languages other than English. For instance, events have been organized in which Haitian Creole, Spanish and Vietnamese were the predominant language. In addition, FEMA offers information in many languages, including, but not limited to French, German, Haitian Creole, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese.