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Intersection: After The Recent Hurricanes, What Assistance Is Still Available?

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Hurricane Irma in 2017. Image Credit: NOAA/CIRA

Hurricane Irma dealt a huge blow to Florida. The storm knocked out power for days and caused billions of dollars in damages.

Many Floridians are still tallying up the impact of the storm and trying to navigate the complexities of state, federal and local assistance on offer.

As Floridians dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, then came Maria, blasting through Puerto Rico and sending many evacuees to Central Florida. What kind of pressure does Maria place on Central Florida resources?

Karen Knapik, Public Affairs Specialist with the US Small Business Administration, Peter Sessum, public information officer with FEMA, and Alan Harris, Emergency Manager with Seminole County joined Intersection to talk about assistance available to people still recovering after the recent hurricanes.

Harris said there are still more than 100 homes in Seminole county, more than 300 homes in Brevard county, and some in Volusia county that still have water in them.

“Our building inspectors can’t even get to the homes to check them out right now to do damage assessments,” Harris said.

“While we are talking about recovery, I want everyone to know that we are still in the response phase.”

Knapik said instead of waiting for insurance to cover damages, a faster way to start the recovery process is by get a loan the Small Business Association

“One of the benefits we do not want you to wait for your insurance we want you to go to SBA let us give you the money you can start the recover process and deal with the insurance later,” Knapik said.

Sessum said there is a disaster relief center set up at the Orlando Airport for people coming into Florida from Puerto Rico, which will help them obtain a drivers license, help them with housing, and even transfer immunization records.

“There’s just so many different resources that are there that as soon as they land they can go in and get resources right away, and that’s a fantastic program,” Sessum said.

If you want to register for a FEMA grant or a SBA loan you can visit disasterassistance.gov or sba.gov.

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