FEDERAL AID: Where SJC residents can find, apply for help

Aid includes grants for home repairs, small business loans, rental assistance

Last Friday, Congress approved $15.25 billion in emergency funding to address those impacted by recent hurricanes, which includes funding for FEMA Disaster Relief, SBA Disaster Loans, and Community Development Block Grants for rebuilding. The Trump Administration is expected to seek additional funding in the coming weeks to respond to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.


Gov. Rick Scott requested, and President Donald Trump approved, a major disaster declaration for all 67 counties in Florida, triggering the immediate release of resources to help communities recover from Irma by reimbursing local communities and the state government for response efforts. This declaration also makes citizens of St. Johns County eligible for direct individual assistance. Citizens may be eligible for grants and loans for home repairs, rental assistance for temporary housing, reemployment assistance benefits, small business loans, and crisis counseling.

To apply for assistance, individuals and business owners should visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362. 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, call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.


• Florida Emergency Management Hotline: 1-800-342-3557

• Text Alerts: Text FLPREPARES to 888777 to receive text alerts from the Florida Department of Emergency Management.

• Online Information: Visit FloridaDisaster.org for more information on recovery efforts.

• St. Johns County: Visit http://www.sjcfl.us/hurricane/ for the latest information.


Federal 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.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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.

• Low-interest loans to cover residential losses not fully compensated by insurance.

• Loans 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.

• Loans for farmers, ranchers and aquaculture operators to cover production and property losses, excluding primary residence.

• 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.


Visit www.disasterassistance.gov to learn more and apply for assistance programs, including the Individual and Households Program (IHP), or call 1-800-621-3362.

If you are eligible for Transitional Sheltering Assistance, FEMA will pay for the cost to stay in certain hotels or motels for a limited period of time. Costs covered are for the cost of the room and taxes, and any other expenses are not included. Visit www.femaevachotels.com to search for participating hotels in your area, and call the hotel prior to traveling, as availability is constantly changing.


FEMA may provide for home repair; then the homeowner may apply for a Small Business Administration disaster loan for additional repair assistance. FEMA will not pay to return a home to its condition before the disaster. Flood insurance may be required if the home is in a Special Flood Hazard Area. Repair and replacement items include:

• Structural parts of a home (foundation, outside walls, roof)

• Windows, doors, floors, walls, ceilings, cabinetry

• Septic or sewage system

• Well or other water system

• Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system

• Utilities (electrical, plumbing, and gas systems)

• Entrance and exit ways from the home, including privately owned access roads

• Blocking, leveling and anchoring of a mobile home and reconnecting or resetting its sewer, water, electrical and fuel lines and tanks


Go to www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/hurricane-irma to visit the Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance Center and learn about the type of aid you may be eligible for, or call 1-800-659-2955.

Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to businesses and residents as a result of disaster declarations. Apply online using the Electronic Loan Application on the SBA’s website or calling 1-800-659-2955.