Disaster Info

 Photo by wollwerth/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by wollwerth/iStock / Getty Images

October 2018

At this time, 35 Florida counties are in a state of emergency due to Hurricane Michael: Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes. Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Gadsden, Liberty, Franklin, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, Madison, Taylor, Hamilton

Call 2-1-1 for general shelter advice. If the call fails, text MICHAEL to 898-211 for help by text. Click here for a list of open shelters or check out the 2018 Statewide Emergency Shelter Plan.



The Florida Disaster Website provides resources for shelters by county, evacuation zones, traffic updates, road closures, and power outages. Florida Disaster Website and Florida Emergency Information Line - 1-800-342-3557


The Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence has a statewide helpline based out of Tallahassee which has been temporarily disabled by Hurricane Michael. Legal advice is still available by dialing the number above.


legal advice and Resources

Florida's toll-free Disaster Legal Services Hotline Number is 866-550-2929. This is a dedicated hurricane disaster line, funded by FEMA and supported by the American Bar Association, the Florida Board of Governors, and the Florida Young Lawyers Division, where you may leave a message for a lawyer to return your call. For more information about this resource, click here.

Visit the Florida Law Help Website for additional disaster relief information and resources. Their website can help people in need find the best legal aid program for their specific issue and location. 

Visit the national Disaster Legal Aid Website.

Florida Legal Services’ own toll-free Disaster Helpline is (888) 780-0443.


FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) offers assistance for sheltering (including paying for a hotel) and money for home repairs, housing, and other assistance (including medical, dental, funeral, essential household items, storage, and vehicle assistance). FEMA assistance does not have to be repaid.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses due to Hurricane Michael in the counties of Bay, Franklin, Gulf, Taylor, and Wakulla can begin applying for assistance on October 11, 2018 by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. Visit the Florida Law Help Website for assistance if you are denied, are appealing, or need legal advice.

FEMA Frequently Asked Questions (English)

FEMA Frequently Asked Questions (Spanish)

FEMA Frequently Asked Questions (Haitian Creole)

FEMA Benefits Requirements

Click here for a list of hotels participating in FEMA's transitional sheltering assistance. You must have applied for and be approved by FEMA for this benefit in order to qualify.


The National Employment Law Project (NELP) has prepared a Hurricane Irma fact sheet with basic information about Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). To qualify for DUA, you must be out of work as a direct result of Irma and not qualify for regular Reemployment Assistance. DUA benefits do not have to be repaid. At this time, we do not have DUA information to share with regards to Hurricane Michael.



TANF pays money to low-income families with dependent children and pregnant women in their third trimester to help pay for rent, utilities, and other household expenses. TANF is not a disaster program but may help families who have been impacted by Irma. TANF benefits do not have to be repaid.

For Hurricane Maria evacuees, DCF eased some eligibility requirements to accommodate for lost documentation. They should accept applicants' statements regarding immunizations, loss of income, and Learnfare if no other verification exists.

Apply for TANF online. Or you can apply for TANF on a paper application that can be mailed, faxed, or returned to your local Customer Service Center. Download the paper application here.



Medicaid pays for medically necessary services for low-income individuals and families. Medicaid is not a disaster program but may help families who have been impacted by a storm or disaster. Medicaid benefits do not have to be repaid.

Apply for Medicaid online. Or you can apply for Medicaid on a paper application that you can mail, fax, or return to your local Customer Service Center. Download the paper application here.

Hurricane Maria evacuees who report that they intend to stay in Florida for will meet the Medicaid residency requirement. Residency is not contingent on the length of the stay.  However, if the evacuee states that they are temporarily staying in Florida and have plans to return to Puerto Rico, the applicant will be ineligible. If an applicant lacks required verification, DCF states that “self-declaration or best available information for all technical and financial factors of eligibility will be accepted for evacuees, unless questionable.”



For students displaced by a disaster or whose schools were damaged beyond immediate repair, Florida Virtual School may be an option. Go to www.flvs.net to begin the registration process or email info@flvs.net for special accommodations. This does not replace Florida’s obligations under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

On October 5th, DOE announced efforts to assist Puerto Rican Maria survivors, including not only that  Florida will accept 20,000 Puerto Rican students into Florida Virtual School (FLVS) whether students are still in Puerto Rico or in Florida, but also that it will enroll displaced K-12 students in local schools.


legal assistance is critical...

Legal aid provides critical resources for all people surviving natural disasters. We help people find safe, secure housing, stand up against discrimination, navigate insurance claims, provide fraud protections, and assist with reproduction of wills or other lost life planning documents.

For low-income families, who often have little power or influence, any loss of property or income has a disproportionately heavy impact. Legal aid helps connect people with disaster recovery networks and obtain FEMA benefits and other insurance benefits. We also assist with Landlord/Tenant disputes and foreclosure problems.



The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) runs the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which used to be known as “Food Stamps.” as well as Disaster SNAP (D-SNAP). D-SNAP gives food assistance to low-income households with food loss or damage caused by Irma even if they would not normally qualify for SNAP as well as by replacing and supplementing the SNAP benefits of persons who were receiving benefits when Irma hit.

Hurricane Maria survivors from Puerto Rico can apply for SNAP in Florida. The USDA says that participants from Puerto Rico must sign an affidavit stating that they understand that they cannot receive benefits from both Puerto Rico and Florida at the same time, and agreeing to close their Puerto Rico case as soon as possible. Households from Puerto Rico will be able to receive SNAP for 2 months subject to normal eligibility criteria for SNAP.

The most up-to-date and accurate information on SNAP benefits and changes are posted on DCF's ACCESS Florida webpage. Check the ACCESS Florida webpage for current information.

For low-income persons in need of food assistance who did not apply for D-SNAP and are not getting SNAP, apply for regular SNAP online here. You can also apply for regular SNAP on a paper application that can be mailed, faxed or returned to your local Customer Service Center. Click here to download a paper form

Denied SNAP or D-SNAP?

Applicants who have been denied SNAP or D-SNAP or disagree with the amount of benefits they received have the right to request a fair hearing from DCF to contest the decision. To request a hearing, follow the instructions and timelines in the written  eligibility notice provided by DCF.  If you did not get a written notice, follow the directions on DCF’s web site at http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/admin/ig/fair-hearing-request-form.shtml. Free legal help from local legal aid programs may be available.  To find your local program, go to www.floridalawhelp.org.



No information for survivors of Hurricane Michael is available yet.



No information for survivors of Hurricane Michael is available yet.



The Florida Department of Financial Services Disaster Fraud Action Strike Team (DFAST) has been activated in response Hurricane Michael and will be deployed in the affected areas to protect Floridians from storm-related fraud.

DFS said in the statement indicators of storm-related fraud include:

1. A contractor or restoration professional who offered to waive or discount an insurance deductible.

2. A contractor or restoration professional that has received payment and has failed to provide any repairs to the home.

3. A contractor or restoration professional who offered to provide repairs at a cash-only discounted rate and has failed to provide repairs to the home.

4. A contractor or restoration professional who pressure the policyholder to sign an AOB and has failed to provide any repairs to the home or stopped responding to contact attempts.



Thank you to our partner MVP Translations for your dedication to making our critical disaster information available to non-English speaking Floridians!