I’ve written about homeowners insurance and how important it is. It was one of the first things I did as soon as I took ownership of my Florida home and I constantly keep it updated. But there are many people who cannot afford insurance and there are also certain things that are not covered by insurance.
I believe totally in fairness. And I think that we are very lucky to have FEMA and assistance from FEMA for everyone, including a Hurricane Irma Relocation Fund. FEMA provides direct help and financial help for people who are not covered by insurance and provide disaster assistance. You do need to register for this assistance.
I was blown away, I must say, by FEMA and the astonishing work they do. Sure, there are always going to be people who say ‘too slow, not enough, where’s my assistance’ but think of the scale of Hurricane Irma.
Anyway, let’s look at the things I have turned about Irma Hurricane relief and the Hurricane Irma Relocation Fund.
The most stressful thing in a hurricane, apart from the terror and the water and the risk of death, is leaving your home and not being able to go back. FEMA offer temporary housing. You need to get hold of them and get help. It may be that you’re covered by your own insurance for a hotel or similar for a certain period, but if you don’t have insurance, contact FEMA. I learned this with huge relief, not because I needed it, but I had many friends who did.
Hurricanes are an expensive business. Not only do you have to leave your home (sometimes, and in the case of Hurricane Irma) but you have to travel back and forth. FEMA will help you if you are unable to help yourselves. They offer grants for public transportation and will help you get to and from your home, but also to and from work. Hurricane Irma wiped out power making transport tricky. It also wiped out cars and buses and you get the picture. FEMA will assist. Apply in good time or as soon as you possibly can.
Medical and dental expenses
Once again, I was thankful and am thankful to have full insurance. It is one of those things that I did as soon as I moved to Florida, updated and ensured I had all the necessary insurances. But many people cannot afford insurance. If you or a family member or friend have been injured – seek help immediately via FEMA. You’ll need to submit claims so keep all receipts and records of any injury, no matter how small. Not to be alarmist but sometimes small (like home maintenance) becomes big. Look into the Hurricane Irma Relocation Fund.
There are always drop off points around the cities where relief comes in. Food parcels may not be up your ally but sometimes they’re your only choice. Poor people are always the worst affected in a disaster and Hurricane Irma was no different. I lost the food in my fridge as the power went off but I could replace it easily and I could claim via insurance. For those who don’t have help or money to replace, there are distribution points for food and FEMA won’t let you go hungry.
The worst thing about a Hurricane, apart from all the things I have already mentioned, is that work might become tricky for you. Many people in Florida have already retired and got their monthly benefits and pensions. But most people need to work. Hurricane Irma certainly put a spoke in work, sometimes for a few days, sometimes short term and sometimes long term. If you had a job which has now been ‘wiped out’, like the Hurricane did, FEMA has a disaster employment programme. You can apply online, not always easy if you don't have access to a computer or don't have power, but get to a nearby office or ask a neighbor to help. And that is what I love about Florida by the way – we help.
Your studies and student loans
Hurricane Irma may well have changed your education. Perhaps you were studying and just managing to pay off your student loans but now you have to pay to repair your home, your car, your life. Try hard not to let your education be affected, it is so important! If you can’t pay back your student loans or your college fees, GET HELP. FEMA. They do a lot more than I ever realized.
There’s something called Rent Forgiveness
You can ask for a FEMA relocation loan. Or you can ask for Rent Forgiveness if you cannot pay your rent or your mortgage. It is so important not to despair. I mean, I know it is a despairing situation when you lose everything you have, but – there are banks and there is FEMA and they will help you. Ask your bank, ask your landlord, talk to your realtor, do whatever you can and ask for help. People understand how awful a natural disaster is. I like to think that I would help if I could and that I would get help if I needed it.
If you owned a generator before Hurricane Irma took place and your generator got damaged when you used it during Hurricane Irma, or afterward in the repair process, you can claim. FEMA will help you replace or repair the generator by offering financial assistance. You do need to prove ownership, or rental receipts, and of course show proof of the damage.
If you used your own chainsaw during the repair process and it got damaged, prove to FEMA that it is/was yours and it is damaged, and they’ll help you refund or repair it.
There’s more and you really should look at the Hurricane Irma Relocation Fund. I am by no means an expert on this subject but I can certainly try and help. Also, if you need to still register for FEMA disaster assistance visit DisasterAssistance.gov. For more recovery information visit FEMA’s Hurricane Irma web page at www.fema.gov/hurricane-irma.