Congressman Thomas J. Rooney

Representing the 17th District of Florida

Federal Disaster Assistance Programs

Federal Disaster Assistance Programs

FEMA Information

Disaster Assistance

For those in designated areas in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, registering online, at, is the quickest way to register for federal assistance, including FEMA assistance.

  • If you have a National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood policy, you may be eligible for reimbursement of actions taken to protect your property. Call your insurance agent to find out more. To file a flood insurance claim under the NFIP, contact your insurance agent immediately. You can also call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) – select option 2 – to learn more about your policy, and be directed to the appropriate claims resource. 
  • Shelters remain open across the affected areas. Download the FEMA mobile app (available in English and Spanish) for directions to open shelters and weather alerts from the National Weather Service.
  • FEMA provides grant assistance to communities for both the actual removal of the debris and the management of the process writ large. This assistance, under Category A of the Public Assistance (PA) Program, is available both for emergency and major disaster declarations. Working with the applicant, FEMA will estimate the amount of debris following a disaster in order to provide eligible grantees expedited payments of 50% of the initial estimate for full anticipated debris removal costs. Eligible private nonprofit organizations (PNPs) may receive assistance for the removal of debris on their eligible facilities. FEMA has established extensive policy guidance specifically on debris removal assistance. Alternative procedures for debris removal are outlined in FEMA’s pilot program guidance.

Transitional Sheltering Assistance: FEMA may provide Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) to eligible disaster survivors who are unable to return to their homes for an extended period and need shelter. TSA provides short-term lodging for eligible disaster survivors whose residence is uninhabitable or inaccessible. To be eligible for TSA, individuals and households must:

  • Register with FEMA for assistance.
  • Pass identity and citizenship verification.
  • Have a pre-disaster primary residence located in a geographic area that is designated for TSA.
  • Be displaced from their pre-disaster primary residence as a result of the disaster.
  • Be unable to obtain lodging through another source.

For those eligible, FEMA will authorize and fund TSA through direct payments to participating hotels/motels. The list of approved hotels is available at or call the FEMA Helpline (800) 621-3362 (voice, 711/VRS-Video Relay Service) (TTY: (800) 462-7585).

FEMA Individual Assistance grants: Individual 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.

  • Residents and business owners who sustained losses can begin applying for assistance by registering online at
  • If you do not have access to the internet, you may register by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY). If you use 711 relay or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362 directly. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.


  • FEMA does not authorize individual contractors to solicit on its behalf.  Beware of any individual contractors contacting you directly on behalf of FEMA to sign you up for debris removal or remediation services.
  • Federal and state workers never ask for, or accept money, and always carry identification badges
  • There is NO FEE required to apply for or to get disaster assistance from FEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration or the state
  • Scam attempts can be made over the phone, by mail or email, text or in person

If you have any concerns about individuals representing themselves as FEMA or would like to report fraud, please contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud at (866) 720-5721 or via email at

Small Business Administration Disaster Loans

The following counties in FL-17 are eligible for both Physical and Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the SBA: Charlotte, Desoto, Glades, Hardee, Highlands, Lee, Okeechobee, Polk, and Sarasota

Whether you rent or own your own home, business, or a farm that is located in a declared disaster area, you may be eligible for financial assistance from the SBA. The SBA has launched a dedicated site for individuals to get help: This site includes the most up-to-date information on SBA disaster loans and details for people and businesses affected by Hurricane Irma.

  • Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via the SBA’s secure website at
  • To be considered for all forms of disaster assistance, applicants should register online at or by mobile device at  If online or mobile access is unavailable, applicants should call the FEMA toll-free helpline at 800-621-3362. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services should call 800-621-3362.
  • Additional details on the locations of Disaster Recovery Centers and the loan application process can be obtained by calling the SBA Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or by sending an e-mail to

The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is Nov. 9, 2017.  The deadline to return economic injury applications is June 11, 2018.

Reporting Business Damages:

  • The Florida Virtual Business Emergency Operations Center business damage assessment surveying tool has been activated for businesses to report damages resulting from Hurricane Irma. Businesses are encouraged to report damages here:
    • The information provided in this survey will be shared among various state and local agencies to expedite implementation of appropriate disaster relief programs for businesses. This survey assists the State with determining if relief services for businesses should be activated

USDA Assistance for Individuals and Small Businesses

Federal assistance may be available through one of the authorized disaster assistance programs under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Additionally, the USDA has assistance for Landowners, Farmers, Ranchers and Producers.


  • USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) provides food assistance to those in need in areas affected by a disaster. This federal assistance is in addition to that provided by state and local governments. For further information I encourage you to visit their website:
  • USDA Foods for Disaster Assistance - FNS may provide food to disaster relief agencies, shelters, and mass feeding sites. States may also release USDA foods to disaster relief agencies to distribute directly to households that are in need if normal commercial food supply channels are disrupted, damaged or destroyed, or are unable to function.
  • D-SNAP - Individuals who might not ordinarily qualify for SNAP may be eligible for D-SNAP if they had expenses related to protecting, repairing, or evacuating their homes (or if they have lost income as a result of the disaster). Additionally, individuals who are already participating in the regular SNAP program may be eligible for additional benefits under the D-SNAP. These Disaster benefits are provided like regular program benefits through an EBT card that can be used at authorized food retailers to buy food.

Crop Assistance

Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) - NAP provides financial assistance to eligible producers affected by floods and other natural disasters. Landowners, tenants, or sharecroppers who share in the risk of producing an eligible crop are eligible. Eligible crops include commercial crops and other agricultural commodities produced for food, including livestock feed or fiber for which the catastrophic level of crop insurance is unavailable. Also eligible for NAP coverage are controlled-environment crops (mushroom and floriculture), specialty crops (honey and maple sap), and value loss crops (aquaculture, Christmas trees, ginseng, ornamental nursery, and turf grass sod). More information is available at

Farm Loans

Emergency Loan Program (ELP) – This program is triggered if a natural disaster or emergency is designated by the President under the Stafford Act. Emergency loans help producers recover from production and physical losses due to flooding and other natural disasters. Emergency loans may be made to farmers and ranchers who own or operate land located in a county declared by the President as a disaster area or designated by the Secretary of Agriculture as a disaster area. Emergency loan funds may be used to: (1) restore or replace essential property; (2) pay all or part of production costs associated with the disaster year; (3) pay essential family living expenses; (4) reorganize the farming operation; and (5) refinance certain debts. More information is available at

Housing Assistance

Single-Family Housing – Those wishing to buy or repair a home in an eligible rural area may qualify for a loan or loan guarantee through USDA. Please contact your local USDA Service Center for additional information.

Multi-Family Housing - Residents in Rural Development-financed apartment complexes who are displaced by a natural disaster may apply for occupancy at any USDA-financed apartment complex and receive special priority consideration for the next available unit. Displaced tenants who are receiving rental assistance may have their subsidy transferred if the complex they move to is eligible for the Rental Assistance program. More information is available at:

Department of Labor

Labor Department activities to assist states and territories include:

  • The Employment and Training Administration (ETA) will provide Disaster Dislocated Worker Grants to assess workforce needs. The disbursement of funding will be determined as needs are assessed by state and local partners.
  • ETA is assisting in administering Disaster Unemployment Assistance for Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This assistance may also become available to other states impacted by Hurricane Irma if additional disaster declarations are made.
  • ETA and the Department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy will make funding available from Disability Employment Initiative grants to provide services, medical equipment, and other resources to individuals with disabilities who are affected by the hurricane.
  • As it did in response to Hurricane Harvey, the Employee Benefit Security Administration (EBSA) is temporarily waiving certain requirements and deadlines related to retirement plans and group health plans, and is coordinating with other federal agencies that regulate employee benefit plans on relief for employers, other plan sponsors, and plan participants and beneficiaries affected by the hurricanes. For example, EBSA is working with the Internal Revenue Service to make it easier for workers to get loans and distributions from 401(k) and other retirement plans and to give employers more time to file the Form 5500 Annual Return/Report for their employee benefit plans. 
  • The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs is temporarily suspending select federal contractor requirements, allowing businesses involved in hurricane relief the ability to prioritize recovery efforts. 
  • The Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) is working with its grantees to identify flexibilities and additional funding needs for its programs, including the Departments of Labor for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Florida (which administer the Jobs for Veterans State Grants programs); affected Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program grantees; and the affected military bases where the Transition Assistance Program’s Employment Workshops are provided. VETS’ staff stands ready to offer assistance to employers, members of the National Guard and Reserves, and members of the National Disaster Medical System and Urban Search and Rescue service who may be deployed in support of rescue and recovery operations.
  • The Wage and Hour Division will be triaging all calls in the affected areas to continue to provide uninterrupted service to workers and employers.
  • The Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) plans to issue a special enforcement advisory that would temporarily ease reporting and other regulatory burdens on labor organizations, labor relations consultants, and employers affected by Hurricane Irma. Advisories will be sent by email to OLMS and Department stakeholders.

There are available online sources that provide the most immediate disaster response information:

Sources of information on the federal emergency management process and policies: