Florida Legal Services

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: Baker, Union, Bradford, Alachua, Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Gadsden, Liberty, Franklin, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, Madison, Taylor, Hamilton, Suwannee, Lafayette, Dixie, Columbia, Gilchrist, Levy and Citrus. Twelve counties have been declared a disaster by the President: Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Leon, Liberty, Taylor, Wakulla, Washington.

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.

AMERICAN RED CROSS
1.866.GET.INFO
(1.866.438.4636) 

DFS STORM HOTLINE
1.800.22.STORM
(1.800.227.8676) 

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

TEMPORARY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LEGAL HELPLINE: (850) 385-0611

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.

REBUILD FLORIDA

Rebuild Florida is a long-term recovery effort to help Florida families whose homes were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Irma repair or rebuild their homes. Learn more at RebuildFlorida.gov.

Registration for Rebuild Florida is open until December 23! This program will provide disaster recovery assistance to eligible Florida homeowners impacted by Hurricane Irma, providing much-needed resources that will help rebuild homes in our hardest-hit communities. Learn more at RebuildFlorida.gov.

The Rebuild Florida program is open! Register today at RebuildFlorida.gov or by calling Rebuild Florida at 844-833-1010. Rebuild Florida centers will also be opening in the hardest-hit communities. More information, including program FAQs, is now available at RebuildFlorida.gov.

Rebuild Florida Brochure - English Process for Rebuild Florida - English

Rebuild Florida Brochure - Spanish Process for Rebuild Florida - Spanish

Rebuild Florida Brochure - Creole Process for Rebuild Florida - Creole

FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY (FEMA) 

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, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Leon, Liberty, Taylor, Wakulla, and Washington 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. The deadline to apply for FEMA assistance has been extended to Tuesday, December 17, 2018.

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.

JOB LOSS

Are you out of work as a direct result of Hurricane Michael but do not qualify for regular Reemployment Assistance? You may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). To file a DUA claim go to www.FloridaJobs.org or call 1-800-385-3920. The deadline for filing has been extended to Monday, December 31, 2018.

The National Employment Law Project (NELP) has prepared a Hurricane Michael fact sheet with basic information about Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA).

 

TEMPORARY ASSISTANCE FOR NEEDY FAMILIES (TANF)

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.

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

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.

The Agency For Health Care Administration (AHCA) has extended special Medicaid exceptions for recipients who reside in one of the 12 Hurricane Michael disaster-designated counties through 11/9/18:

  • AHCA will ensure reimbursement for all services provided in good faith to eligible recipients;

  • Except for prior authorization for pharmacy services, Florida Medicaid will waive all prior authorization requirements with dates of service during the disaster grace period (from 10/7/18 through 11/9/18);

  • Florida Medicaid will waive frequency, duration, and scope limits on services that were exceeded for dates of service during the disaster grace period in order to maintain health and safety of recipients;

  • Early prescription refills continue to be allowed for maintenance medications except for controlled substances;

  • Transportation providers will receive reimbursement for transporting eligible recipients for medical services to shelters and other temporary housing when they are displaced from the storm;

  • Special procedures are in place for provisional enrollment applications for providers not already enrolled in Florida Medicaid (out-of-state or in-state); and

  • Enrollment is waived for providers not already enrolled in Medicaid to prescribe non-controlled substances in certain situations.

Beginning 11/10/18, Florida Medicaid will return to normal coverage and reimbursement policies except for specified instances in which ongoing impact from the storm affects compliance (e.g., recipient is displaced and must recovery services out-of-state).

FRAUD

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.

FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL SERVICES CONSUMER HELPLINE
1.877.MY.FL.CFO
(1.877.693.5236)  

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.

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SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (SNAP) & DISASTER SNAP

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 disasters, 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 the disaster occurred. D-SNAP has been activated in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Leon, Liberty, Taylor, Wakulla, and Washington counties. Impacted persons who lived or worked in any of those counties are eligible to apply.

If you want to apply for food assistance from the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP), check DCF’s website about how and when to pre-register to apply for D-SNAP in your county and what dates you can be interviewed for your D-SNAP application. Interviews can be in-person or by phone. You must pre-register to be interviewed by phone or in person. When you pre-register, write down the registration number that DCF assigns to your case so that you can give it to DCF during your D-SNAP application interview. You are required to have an application interview with DCF to get D-SNAP, but you can decide whether to have that interview by phone or in-person.

How to qualify for D-SNAP:

  • Households living in the disaster area must meet certain criteria to be eligible to receive D-SNAP benefits such as a loss or reduced income due to the disaster, inaccessible resources, or incurring disaster expenses. The household must have experienced at least one of the following adverse effects to be eligible:

  • Damage to or destruction of the household's home or self-employment business.

  • Disaster-related expenses not expected to be reimbursed during the disaster period (such as food loss, home or business repairs, temporary shelter expenses, evacuation expenses, home/business protection, disaster-related personal injury including funeral expenses).

  • Lost or inaccessible income, including reduction or termination of income, or a delay in receipt of income during the benefit period.

  • There are no citizenship requirements or requirements that D-SNAP applicants have a social security number  to qualify for D-SNAP.

DCF auto-replaced 40% of the October allotment of SNAP benefits for recipients in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Wakulla, and Washington counties. SNAP recipients in those counties who lost more than 40% of food that was purchased with food assistance benefits were able to sign and attest to how much was lost up to their monthly SNAP allotment amount. The deadline to apply for additional replacement SNAP benefits was October 30, 2018. In addition, existing SNAP recipients in these affected counties automatically received a supplement to their October 2018 SNAP benefits up to the maximum benefits amount for a family of their size.

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. To see if DCF is implementing D-SNAP in your area, check DCF’s Food for Florida website.

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?

Applicants who have been denied 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.

 

TRANSITIONAL SHELTERING ASSISTANCE (TSA)

Are you unable to stay in your home or apartment due to hurricane damage? To date, TSA for survivors of Hurricane Michael is available in Bay, Jackson and Gulf Counties. To apply for FEMA assistance, visit disasterassistance.gov or call FEMA's disaster assistance helpline at 800-621-FEMA or TTY 800-462-7585.

 

U.S. DEPT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT (HUD) VOUCHERS

No information regarding HUD Vouchers for survivors of Hurricane Michael is available yet.

Operation Blue Roof
Is your roof damaged by Hurricane Michael? The Blue Roof Program makes temporary repairs to roofs partially damaged by Hurricane Michael. Call 1-888-ROOF-BLU for more information.

FLOW (Florida Licensing on Wheels)
Florida’s Department of Highway Safety has mobile driver license and motor vehicle services (called FLOW) for Hurricane MIchael survivors to renew, obtain or replace driver's licenses, ID cards, and disabled parking permits as well as to change names or addresses on licenses and ID cards. Go to https://www.flhsmv.gov/locations/florida-licensing-wheels-flow/ for more information.

 

EMERGENCY PRESCRIPTION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (EPAP)

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has activated the Emergency Prescription Assistance Program (EPAP) to allow uninsured Floridians free replacements of certain medical supplies, equipment and medications lost or damaged by Hurricane Michael through 11/15/2018. Uninsured Floridians affected by Michael can visit www.phe.gov/epap or call 855-793-7470 to see if their medication or medical/supplies or equipment are covered and to find a participating pharmacy.

DISASTER RECOVERY CENTERS (DRC)

Do you need a place to go for help with applying for FEMA assistance? Click here for a list of open DRCs. In addition, FEMA has also published a map of Mobile Registration Intake Centers (MRIC) temporarily deployed across the panhandle to assist Hurricane Michael survivors in applying for FEMA assistance. MRICs are open from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. local time daily until further notice.

EDUCATION

The Department of Education maintains a list of school closures by county due to Hurricane MIchael.

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. This does not replace Florida’s obligations under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

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

 

Our projects cross boundaries.

 
 

How we work

an integrated approach

Florida Legal Services advocates for vulnerable populations and their whole legal needs. Our attorneys practice in all of Florida's state and federal courts. We work on the most pressing and current issues faced by low-income and disenfranchised Floridians and embrace a Community Lawyering model of law practice.

We affect systemic change for:

Low-wage earners and disenfranchised job seekers

People in need of health care and prescription drugs

Domestic violence survivors

Vulnerable seniors

Children with special needs and at-risk youth

People seeking safe, fair and affordable housing

Institutionalized people (Florida Institutional Legal Services Project)

Immigrant families and migrant workers

People facing discrimination based on  race, disability, criminal history, history of domestic violence, gender identity or sexual orientation

 

 

 
 

Immigrant & Migrant Rights Project


Formerly known as the Migrant Farmworker Justice Project (MFJP), this project has provided over 20 years of legal assistance to farmworkers and immigrant families working in Florida, including migrant or seasonal farmworkers and temporary agricultural workers under the H-2A visa program. We also provide legal representation to temporary non-agricultural workers under the H-2B visa program and represent clients with work-related legal issues in federal and state courts or administrative proceedings, such as unpaid wages, violations of working and housing conditions, breach of employment contract matters, employment discrimination, and unemployment insurance. We work closely with community services organizations serving the farmworker and immigrant communities throughout Florida.


Florida Institutional Legal Services Project

The Florida Institutional Legal Services (FILS) Project is dedicated to protecting and advancing the rights of indigent people in state custody by providing high quality legal services. FILS also works to end mass incarceration in Florida and the reliance on the criminal justice system to resolve social issues. FILS represents juveniles, immigrants, inmates, prisoners and other detainees in a wide variety of state and federal institutions. Our advocates represent the institutionalized and the recently released in individual cases, class actions, and impact litigation. We educate the public about institutional conditions and provide technical assistance to other attorneys and advocates. Maximizing our relatively small resources, FILS litigates proactively to reform existing law. FILS strives to empower our clients, who enjoy the fewest protections and least access to legal resources.

The FILS Project also publishes the Florida Manual for Incarcerated Parents. This Manual is designed to help parents who are incarcerated in Florida prisons and jails understand their rights and responsibilities as parents. FILS encourages the widest distribution of this manual. You are welcome to photocopy or reproduce this material, but if you do, please copy the manual in its entirety and please do not charge a fee for the copies. 

FILS creates reentry information packets, which are intended to assist incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals transition into society and their communities by providing a list of resources for each county in Florida.


Health Advocacy

Our state-wide Health Advocacy project works with all Florida Legal Services projects to increase Florida families' access to physical and mental health care and prescription drugs. Our advocates advance our priorities through legislative advocacy, collaboration with other community stakeholders, and impact and class action litigation.

PRESCRIPTION DRUG HELPLINE AND PUBLICATIONS

Medicaid Publications


Domestic Violence Hotline

Our attorneys work in collaboration with Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence to provide state-wide legal assistance to victims of domestic violence. Additionally, we provide training to other DV advocates on a range of civil legal issues affecting DV victims. Our attorneys use their substantive expertise to identify and address systems, laws and policies which work against DV victims and their children staying safe and achieving economic security.

learn more


Fair and Affordable Housing

Our Fair and Affordable Housing project works statewide to preserve affordable housing, support the creation of new affordable housing in areas of opportunity and to promote fair housing for vulnerable populations.  Our advocates advance our priorities through legislative advocacy, collaboration with other community stakeholders, and impact and class action litigation.


Economic Opportunity

Our Economic Opportunity Project strengthens the economic opportunities of low-income and disenfranchised Floridians. We secure the safety net that protects vulnerable Floridians through effective and innovative systemic strategies to advance public policy and law.  We believe that economic opportunity is the cornerstone to preventing poverty.


Children's Advocacy

Our children’s advocacy project is dedicated to ensuring that all Florida’s children receive the opportunities, supports, and services they need to lead safe, healthy, and productive lives. Our advocates engage in strategic litigation, as well as legislative and administrative advocacy at both the state and federal levels, to advance the rights of children and youth and improve government systems and programs designed to serve children.  


Florida Legal Services is an Equal Opportunity Employer

Our policy is to provide a fair and equal employment opportunity for associates and job applicants regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status or disability.  FLS does not condone or tolerate an atmosphere of intimidation or harassment of any form and requires the cooperation of all associates in maintaining a discrimination and harassment-free atmosphere.

Hurricane Preparedness

Hurricanes Irma and Maria: Disaster Relief Fact Sheets

 

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