As the Suncoast begins to recover from Hurricane Irma, Congressman Vern Buchanan today pointed residents to a number of federal disaster relief programs that can help with the recovery.

“I want to make sure my constituents are aware of the federal resources available to help address any damage Irma left behind,” said Buchanan, who monitored the storm from the Manatee County Emergency Operations Center.

The federal disaster declaration issued Sunday for Sarasota, Manatee and Hillsborough Counties unlocked a number of programs to help residents, including grants and loans for home repairs, rental assistance for temporary housing, unemployment payments, loans for small businesses and crisis counseling.

To apply for assistance, individuals and business owners should visit or call 1-800-621-3362.

Aid programs available as a result of the disaster declaration include:

  • Grants for home repairs and replacement of essential household items not covered by insurance to make damaged dwellings safe, sanitary and functional. (Source: FEMA funded and administered.)
  • Grants to replace personal property and help meet medical, dental, funeral, transportation and other serious disaster-related needs not covered by insurance or other federal, municipality and charitable aid programs. (Source: FEMA funded at 75 percent of total eligible costs; 25 percent funded by the state.)
  • Rental payments for temporary housing for those whose homes are unlivable. Initial assistance may be provided for up to three months for homeowners and at least one month for renters. Assistance may be extended if requested after the initial period based on a review of individual applicant requirements. (Source: FEMA funded and administered.)
  • Unemployment payments up to 26 weeks for workers who temporarily lost jobs because of the disaster and who do not qualify for state benefits, such as self-employed individuals. (Source: FEMA funded; state administered.)
  • Low-interest loans to cover residential losses not fully compensated by insurance. Loans available up to $200,000 for primary residence; $40,000 for personal property, including renter losses. Loans available up to $2 million for business property losses not fully compensated by insurance. (Source: U.S. Small Business Administration.)
  • Loans up to $2 million for small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes that have suffered disaster-related cash flow problems and need funds for working capital to recover from the disaster’s adverse economic impact. This loan in combination with a property loss loan cannot exceed a total of $2 million. (Source: U.S. Small Business Administration.)
  • Loans up to $500,000 for farmers, ranchers and aquaculture operators to cover production
    and property losses, excluding primary residence. (Source: Farm Service Agency, U.S.
    Department of Agriculture.)
  • Other relief programs: Crisis counseling for those traumatized by the disaster; income tax
    assistance for filing casualty losses; advisory assistance for legal, veterans’ benefits and
    social security matters.

Disaster assistance applicants with a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY should call 1-
800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-
3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. (local time) seven days
a week until further notice.

Gary Tibbetts
Special Assistant to Congressman Buchanan
Law Enforcement Coordinator
Field Representative Manatee County

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