Have You Been Affected By Hurricane Ian? Find Help Today Here

On Tuesday, September 27th, Hurricane Ian first struck Cuba, leaving all of the island without power. The storm then made landfall in Florida on Wednesday, September 28th, first at the shore of Fort Myers on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

The 150-mph hurricane came within 2 mph of becoming a Category 5. Southwest Florida took the most direct hit and will never be the same. Floridians and our guests will remember this powerful storm and devastation forever.

Dealing with the Aftermath

When we could finally see out our windows, we saw cars underwater, boats and ships on land, houses floating, others missing roofs and sides, homes struck by trees, and a storm surge that sent water to second-floor balconies.

There are currently three million people without power. And as I write this today, I am personally displaced from my home, without water and electricity. I am, I believe, one of the lucky ones.

Emergency managers advise residents to stay out of floodwater and away from any damaged power lines.

Getting Help

I work at GrantWatch, a Florida company that today added disaster relief as a payroll item for those of us who missed time from work and have experienced the storm firsthand. We are all so grateful for all the people who want to help. And GrantWatch wants to help too by listing every resource we can find for our readers. We will be updating this article daily.

Once the storm clears, there will be no shortage of work and volunteers needed. However, even since the beginning of the hurricane, many have been working tirelessly to provide relief. First Lady Casey DeSantis noted this during her husband’s news briefing Thursday, as she thanked all the first responders.

“I just want to say on behalf of the governor and myself, everyone here who’s working at the Emergency Operations Center, all of the men and women who have not left since this disaster began; to all of those people across the state, first responders, I want to say ‘Thank you,’” DeSantis said.

Where to Find Assistance?

If you or someone you know is in need of aid, there are many ways to get help. Here are a few places to get a helping hand:

Cleanup/ Repairs

To clean up any debris on your property, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing waterproof gloves and hard hats, because the debris might be contaminated by floodwater.

  • Home Cleanup Hotline: Hurricane victims needing assistance at their residence can call 800-451-1954. This number also helps volunteer response groups know where they need to go.
  • Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful – The organization promotes environmental stewardship through volunteer and educational opportunities. Seniors who need help cleaning yard debris caused by Hurricane Ian may contact Kira Baker, or call (813) 221-8733 ext. 2.
  • Crisis Clean Up– This is a platform that connects residents in need of assistance with volunteers and organizations who may be able to help. Call 1-800-451-1954 or visit crisiscleanup.org to find out more information.
  • Report downed trees blocking roadways, damaged traffic signs, and malfunctioning traffic signals to 833-HC STORM or 833-427-8676, the County’s storm information line.
  • If you have homeowners, renters, or flood insurance, you should file a claim immediately. FEMA cannot duplicate benefits for losses already covered by insurance. If your policy does not cover all your disaster expenses, you may be eligible for federal assistance. Take photos to document damage and begin cleanup and repairs to prevent further damage. Remember to keep receipts from all purchases related to the cleanup and repair.
  • Feeding Tampa Bay has meals ready to eat, bottled water, pre-packed meal boxes, and fresh produce to distribute. If you are in need, you can go to feedingtampabay.org to find a pantry or distribution site near you.
  • Florida Department of Children and Families released $235,351,849 in early SNAP benefits to a household population of approximately 773,579 people at risk of impact by Hurricane Ian. More information can be found here: ACCESS Florida – Florida Department of Children and Families (myflfamilies.com)
Financial Assistance
  • Florida Disaster Fund: The organization is spearheaded by First Lady Casey DeSantis and FEMA. It is offering financial assistance to residents impacted by Ian. The Florida Disaster Fund and Volunteer Florida are also working with the Department of Children and Families and Sunshine Health through the First Lady’s Hope Florida Initiative to open Family Resource Support Centers with one-on-one support for impacted families. Anyone who needs help can call the Hope Line at 850-300-HOPE.
  • The Federal Small Business Association provides low-interest loans to homeowners, renters, and business owners in regions affected by declared disasters. Visit sba.gov/disaster.
  • CareerSource Florida is working with DEO to support recovery efforts and help connect affected residents with temporary employment and other recovery assistance. All career centers are open statewide except CareerSource Southwest Florida’s centers in Port Charlotte and Naples.
  • Work search reporting and other requirements for Reemployment Assistance have been temporarily waived for Floridians in FEMA disaster-declared counties. Eligible Floridians must file for regular state Reemployment Assistance benefits before applying for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA).
  • FEMA: Anyone Looking for transitional shelter or essential repairs can visit fema.gov or call 1-800-621-3362.
  • Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace disaster-damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace disaster-damaged or destroyed personal property. Detailed information and applications are available on the SBA disaster assistance page.
  • Uber is offering round-trip rides to and from shelter locations in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, and Pasco counties listed at floridadisaster.org. You can enter promotional code IANRELIEF to receive a free round-trip of up to $30 in each direction.
  • Florida Housing has ensured that all listings are up to date for families who need to quickly relocate at www.FloridaHousingSearch.org.
  • Florida Housing Finance Corporation has updated its Disaster Relief webpage to provide families with information on housing resources and assistance. This webpage will also continue to be updated as more information becomes available. Disaster Relief Resources and Information (floridahousing.org).
  • VISIT Florida has activated the Emergency Accommodations Portal at Expedia.com/Florida, which shows the latest available listings.
Mental Health/Medical
  • Florida Blue: The state’s Blue Cross and Blue Shield plan is offering free telehealth visits for anyone impacted by the hurricane, even if they’re not a member. Clinicians can help with nonemergency conditions such as allergies, colds, flu, and sinus problems. Call the Teladoc hotline at 855-225-5032.
  • Mental Health: New Directions Behavioral Health and Florida Blue have partnered together to provide 24/7 bilingual mental health consultations via phone.
  • Disaster Helpline: The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has a Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 that is available 24 hours a day to provide crisis counseling.
  • Florida DCF has created a First Responder Support Line: 407-823-1657 – that all first responders throughout the impacted areas can contact. This line combines current resources into a single point of contact that will connect first responders with mental health professionals.
  • DCF has also opened six Family Resource Support Centers with staff on site, including Hope Navigators, behavioral health partners who specialize in disaster recovery response, and public benefit eligibility specialists to help individuals and families.
  • Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) has activated the State Assistance Information Line (SAIL) to provide an additional resource for Floridians to receive up-to-date information regarding Hurricane Ian. Residents and visitors can call this toll-free hotline at 1-800-342-3557.
  • Boil Water Notices have been issued for 162 areas, over 22 counties, following the impacts of Hurricane Ian. In addition, DOH continues to monitor and maintain a comprehensive statewide list of notices for residents to access online.
Additional Help
  • U-Haul is offering 30 days of free self-storage and U-Box container usage at 43 Florida facilities. Contact your nearest participating facility at uhaul.com.
  • AT&T is waiving talk, text, and data overage charges for AT&T Postpaid & PREPAID customers. This is for anyone with billing addresses in 828 zip codes across Florida from September 28, 2022, through October 28, 2022.
  • Comcast has opened Xfinity WiFi hotspots in Central, North, and Southwest Florida, and the Panhandle for Xfinity customers and non-customers to stay connected during and after the storm. Details are available at Florida.Comcast.com.
  • The Disaster Legal Services Advice Hotline is a FEMA-funded free legal aid hotline for disaster-related problems for Ian survivors who cannot afford an attorney. The hotline number is 866-550-2929. 

GrantWatch is also sharing disaster relief grants that are currently available. More will be added as they become available.

Disaster Relief Grants
  • Financial assistance is available to agricultural producers to mitigate crop losses due to natural disasters and adverse conditions resulting in low yields, inventory loss, or the prevention of crop planting.
  • Loans to USA small businesses for financial support due to the absence of an essential employee who has been called up for active military duty.
  • Grants to USA nonprofit organizations and government agencies to respond to animal welfare needs following disasters and emergencies.
  • Grants are also open to state and tribal governments and workforce boards for services to benefit workers who have experienced job loss due to disasters.
  • Grants of up to $5,000 to USA and territories archival repositories for urgent assistance following a serious disaster.
  • There are also loans for USA individuals in eligible locations to assist with disaster recovery financing. Funding is to help homeowners, renters, and property owners living in a declared disaster area who have experienced damage to their homes or personal property. 
  • Grants to Florida nonprofits in eligible locations for disaster recovery efforts that benefit local communities.
  • USA, Canada, and International organizations can apply for a grant to fund disaster relief efforts to benefit animals
  • Grants are also available to Florida nonprofits and tribes, institutions of higher education, and government agencies to employ volunteer staff to meet community needs.
  • Grants to Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina nonprofits and government agencies for hurricane relief efforts that benefit animals
  • Additionally, there are loans for USA and Puerto Rico nonprofits, small businesses, and agricultural cooperatives for disaster relief efforts in eligible locations.
  • USA and Puerto Rico restaurants can also apply for grants of up to $10,000 for disaster relief. Funding may be used for operating expenses including utilities, rent, supplies and materials, food and beverage inventory, and supplier costs.
GrantNews Notes

Looking for more grants like this? GrantWatch features an entire grant category specifically for disaster relief. GrantWatch updates its database weekly with new grants, so remember to check back regularly for any new grants you might have missed.

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