We have launched the Hurricane Relief Fund to help meet immediate storm-related needs and long-term recovery in our community. 100% of your gift goes to help our neighbors in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties recover from Hurricane Irma. Thank you for your generosity.
STORM RECOVERY HELP
Hurricanes… tornadoes… earthquakes… tropical storms… floods… when the forces of nature are unleashed, the results are often devastating. There is little anyone can do to prevent or reduce the power of these natural disasters. United Way resources serve as a guide on the path to recovery.
Use these checklists to guide your plan of action for recovery.
For Your Family
- List your available financial resources
- Identify other sources of financial assistance
- Make a list of things you will need to replace
- Take photos of damage that has occurred
- Stay in touch with family and friends
- Consider joining a support group (or start one of your own)
- Return to normal routines as soon as possible
- Talk about your feelings
For Your Children
- Give lots of reassuring hugs
- Provide age-appropriate factual information about the disaster
- Encourage them to talk about their feelings– and be honest about your own
- Spend extra time with them at bedtime
- Return to regular schedules for work, play, school and rest
- Involve your children in the recovery with specific chores
- Praise responsible behavior
- Eat properly and drink plenty of liquid
- Exercise helps reduce stress– take a brisk walk
- Don’t take on too much as you begin to rebuild
- Get plenty of rest – nap if you can’t sleep
- Talk about your fears and concerns
- Consider talking with a counselor who can help you manage your stress
- Don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it
For Your Home or Apartment
- Contact FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
- Be sure your residence is safe before you return
- Contact your insurance agent– don’t guess at your coverage
- Get more than one estimate for repairs
- Set up a safe place to keep receipts for all your expenses
- Determine what you can do by yourself
- Determine what you can do with the help of a few friends
- Determine what requires an expert (electrical, plumbing, etc.)
- Check references carefully
- Check contractor and repair firms with the Better Business Bureau
ROOF OVER YOUR HEAD
The experience of homelessness for those who have been forced out of their homes as a result of a natural disaster is particularly devastating. Suddenly, in spite of years of careful planning and saving, you may have lost your home and its valued contents. You may have lost treasured mementos and cherished possessions that are an important part of your history. If this is the case, you have reason to grieve. While no one can truly recapture all that you have lost, there is help available to help you begin again.
- American Red Cross Central Florida Region
- 3310 W. Main St. Tampa, FL, 33607 Phone: (813) 348-4820
- Salvation Army – 407.423.8581
- 2-1-1 UNITED WAY HELPLINE – Dial 2-1-1.
You will want to determine whether your financial situation has been affected by the storm. Identify your available financial resources, then list your expenses. Prioritize your expenses so that the necessities are paid for first; then you can evaluate how to spend the funds that remain.
If you are concerned about your ability to pay your bills, the Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) can help you prepare a reasonable budget. CCCS can also help you negotiate a manageable repayment plan for your outstanding debts. There is no fee for services, but you must have some income in your household.
Make a list of all those with whom you do business and inform them of your circumstances if you are concerned about your ability to pay your bills. You may be able to postpone or reduce payments. Keep records of all such conversations and keep copies of everything for your files.
To avoid some consumer pitfalls following the disaster, you may contact the Better Business Bureau, the Florida Attorney General’s Consumer Protection or the Florida Department of Insurance for information about how to protect yourself against consumer fraud.
Financial Services and Consumer Advice
- Better Business Bureau
- Consumer Credit Counseling Service
- Florida Attorney General – 1-866-966-7226
- Florida Department of Insurance – 850-413-3140
SOMEONE TO TALK TO
You have experienced a major life crisis. Whatever the nature of your loss – your home, your possessions, a friend or loved one – you will pass through many stages of grief. Shock, anger, fear and sadness are normal emotions associated with the grieving process. Don’t feel that you have to deal with these feelings alone. There are numerous counseling services available at low or no cost to you. Family & individual counselors, therapists and other mental health professionals have the skills needed to guide you through this difficult time.
This is no time for heroics – reach out for help when you feel the need.
It is very important that you take care of yourself and other family members who have been through this crisis. Be sure to take your regular medications (insulin, blood pressure, antidepressant, etc.) and don’t hesitate to seek medical help if you feel sick following the confusion and anxiety as a result of this disaster.
A variety of health care resources are available for you as you need them and you are encouraged to take advantage of them promptly. Your normal resistance to illness may have been lowered as a result of the stress you have been experiencing. You want to make every effort to build yourself up again. Take your vitamins, eat properly, get enough sleep and seek medical help quickly if you or your children begin to feel ill.
BACK TO WORK
If you have lost your job as a result of the disaster, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Unemployment benefits are available through the Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA).
Locate missing loved ones or report fatalities:
- To report a missing child, call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-866-908-9570
- National Emergency Child Locator Center: 1-866-908-9570
- To find family or friends or to register yourself as safe, visit the Red Cross Safe & Well site
- To report the location of a body, call 911.
Ambulance – 9-1-1
Disaster (Fire, Flood, Etc.)
*American Red Cross – 813-348-4820
Fire – 9-1-1
Information & Referral
Florida Poison Control Center – 1- 800-222-1222
Police (Emergencies only) – 9-1-1
Suicide And Depression
Water Safety After a Flood
Floodwaters may contain fecal material from overflowing sewage systems, and agricultural and industrial byproducts.
- There is risk of disease from eating or drinking anything contaminated with floodwater.
- Do not allow children to play in floodwater areas, wash children’s hands frequently (always before meals), and do not allow children to play with floodwater contaminated toys that have not been disinfected.
- Keep open cuts and sores as clean as possible by washing well with soap. If a wound develops redness, swelling, or drainage, seek immediate medical attention.
Public Water Systems
If you are on a Public Water System (PWS), your municipality, water utility, or system owner will notify you of any unsafe drinking water conditions in the system and provide directions on what you can do to prevent exposure.
For issues concerning your home’s water system including quality of water, drainage, and retention concerns, or sewage back-up, contact your home’s city or MUD operator.
Private Water Well Systems
Private drinking water wells in flooded areas should always be considered contaminated. If your well or the area around it was flooded:
- STOP USING THE WATER FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION AND CONTACT.
- Use only bottled or boiled water as an alternative source for drinking, cooking (including washing food you eat raw), and bathing until you can disinfect your well and have a sample tested.
- EPA – What to Do After the Flood https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-05/documents/epa816f05021.pdf
- The National Flood Insurance Program answers questions for policyholders about the claims process at 800-621-3362
- USA.gov provides advice on replacing vital documents.