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Need Help After a Florida Disaster? Here Are Some Places to Start

Posted on 09/18/17 by Dave Bruns, AARP Florida

The 2017 hurricane season has been tough for all Floridians – and it’s not over yet. For Floridians age 50-plus, for family caregivers and for Florida communities, there have been challenges to overcome from Key West to Fernandina Beach, and just about everywhere in between.

For most Floridians, Hurricane Irma is a bad memory. The power is back on in most cities and towns, flooding has subsided and cleanup of storm debris is under way or even partly complete.
But full recovery for those hardest hit by 2017 hurricanes will take much longer. To help equip you with the information you need to get back to where you were, AARP has collected this short guide to resources that could be particularly helpful for Floridians 50-plus.

Storm surge can be dangerous.

Storm surge from Hurricane Irma caused serious coastal damage in the Keys, in Southwest Florida and some areas in Northeast Florida.

  • If your or your loved one’s home was flooded or received hurricane damage, it’s worth going here to check out the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s (FEMA) information page. AARP has collected some tips on what to keep and what to throw out.
  • Homes that suffered rain or flood damage may seem OK at first, but mold problems can develop later. The Centers for Disease Control has some helpful tips available.
  • If you had flood or wind damage and want to file a claim under your homeowner’s insurance, first try calling your insurer at the number listed on your homeowner’s policy. If you have trouble figuring out whether your policy provides coverage, try the Florida Chief Financial Officer’s website, which offers helpful tips, or call them at 1-877-693-5236
  • FEMA also is setting up Disaster Recovery Centers at locations around the state. Go here to locate the nearest center.
  • If you had repair costs from the hurricane that your insurance did not cover, you may be eligible for FEMA Individual Assistance aid. Go here to learn more. In general, FEMA Individual Assistance provides up to $33,000 to repair a home to a safe and sanitary condition, but not to its original condition. If you later receive an insurance settlement that covers the cost of repairs, you may be required to repay FEMA Individual Assistance aid.
  • If you need to borrow to pay for home repair, temporary housing or other housing costs, you may be able to qualify for a Small Business Administration disaster-recovery loan. SBA loans can offer lower interest than commercially available loans. Learn more about these loans here.
  • If you had expenses related to Hurricane Irma or other natural disasters, you may be able to claim tax deductions for your storm-related losses on your 2017 tax returns. The IRS offers a useful guide to these deductions:
  • Once hurricane season is behind us, the temptation is to forget about it until next year. A better idea is to prepare now — it will save you time and money later. Here’s our list of tips and resources.

    Losing power in a storm is a hassle that many Floridians don’t want to put up with anymore. Some have decided to buy electrical generators to keep the lights on — and the refrigerator cool — when the next storm comes. Generators can be great tools, but they also can be dangerous. Learn more about how to use them safely.

    Natural disasters can bring out the best in people, as Americans donate and work to help others. But it’s also a time when scam artists are lurking, trying to defraud you. That’s certainly true of home-repair fraud after a major hurricane. AARP has put together some tips to help you ward off fraud.

    AARP also is working in the Florida Legislature to strengthen Florida’s protections for older people and family caregivers during a natural disaster. Learn more here.

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