Ian Disaster Assistance: Hurricane victims seeking help aside from FEMA weeks after storm

"See, the electricity box is underwater right there," Marguerite Anderson shows us pictures of the damage left behind at her Winter Springs home from Hurricane Ian. Anderson continues, "I couldn’t even go outside, you know, I had to wear boots." Three weeks after the hurricane, and she’s one of many still in need of help. 

Since Hurricane Ian ravaged the state of Florida, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved $420 million to help Floridians with Hurricane Ian recovery. Unfortunately, not everyone has been approved for FEMA assistance. 

If you were a victim of the hurricane or flooding that followed, where can you turn for help, other than FEMA? Let’s start with the Florida Disaster Fund. That’s the state’s official private fund created to give financial help to communities as they respond to and recover from an emergency or disaster. According to the Florida Disaster Fund website (https://www.volunteerflorida.org/florida-disaster-fund-grantees/ ) in previous natural disasters, the fund has helped remove trees, clean homes and pick up debris. 

For some of the hardest hit areas, we’ve broken down resources by county. 

In Osceola County, officials are referring people to visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov or their Disaster Recovery Center at Hart Memorial Library in downtown Kissimmee. It’s a one-stop-shop for people and businesses looking for:

  • Status of FEMA applications
  • Housing assistance and rental resource information
  • referrals to other agencies that may provide further assistance
  • Small Business Administration (SBA) program information regarding assistance

It’s open from 9-6pm, seven days a week.

In Orange County, they’ve set up a storm page : www.ocfl.net/ian . This is where the county is gathering all their resources for residents. 

In Seminole County, the Disaster Recovery Center is at Seminole State College in Sanford. Inside, there are a number of service providers on hand to help.

Sanford resident, Kim Thompson says, "As soon as we came here we thought we’d be waiting for a long time and they really helped us out." In need of financial and food assistance, Kim and her husband Tommy Thompson say they didn’t have much luck getting ahold of FEMA over the phone or online. But after visiting the recovery center, they are walking away with the answers they were looking for. "This has been under a 30 minute process for us and they’ve been very very helpful with us, so hopefully we’ll get the help that we need," Thompson adds.

It’s important to note, if you were denied help from FEMA, in some cases, the agency denies your application because information may be missing. You may be able to appeal the FEMA decision at one of the local Disaster Recovery Centers.

The Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) provides food assistance for individuals and families impacted by Hurricane Ian and who are not receiving food assistance benefits through the regular Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). For more information you can visit: https://www.myflfamilies.com/DSNAP/ .

Additional government benefits, including disaster relief for individuals and households, can be found here.