It is difficult to predict when emergency-relief services may become available after a hurricane. Often it could take days— sometimes even weeks. Pinellas County works with local, state and federal organizations to provide essentials for residents and business owners as quickly as possible.
Once emergency needs are met, recovery begins. In the months that follow, state and federal government agencies will set up assistance sites to help with applying for disaster assistance related to business restoration, building repairs and long-term housing for those who lost homes. The priorities are to make sure everyone has a safe place to stay and that county businesses can get back to serving the community.
You may need to access both your home and automobile policies to put things back together. Be sure to:
- As part of your pre-disaster preparations, inventory all of your possessions. Take photos and videos of all of your belongings and of your home and yard. Store these files in the cloud and/or on a thumbdrive. Print them out.
- Immediately report property damage to your insurance agent. Your agent should provide you with claim forms and arrange for someone to visit your property.
- Document temporary repairs that you make. Keep all receipts and take photographs of the damages before and after a repair.
- Lock doors and windows and remove valuable items if you are leaving your home because of the damage. Leave contact information with your insurance agent.
- Check with your local building office to determine if repairs require a permit.
Know Your Rights
Criminals may target vulnerable consumers after a storm. Know your rights as a consumer. Do not let your eagerness to make repairs leave you a victim.
- Be cautious of anyone coming to your home uninvited and offering to complete home repairs.
- Stay aware of individuals canvassing your neighborhood in an unmarked van or truck.
- Insist on a written estimate before agreeing to anything, and get estimates from several companies.
- Be sure the contract or business card has an address, telephone number and license numbers.
- Ask for references and check them out.
- Insist on start and completion dates in the contract.
- Do not pay the final balance for work performed until it is completed to your satisfaction.
Contact Pinellas County Consumer Services for more information at 727-464-6200 or to file a complaint.
Assistance from Disaster Relief Agencies
Disaster Recovery Centers
The Federal Emergency Management Agency may establish Disaster Recovery Centers. Locations will depend on the damages. Services may include:
- Temporary housing
- Low-interest small business loans
- Unemployment assistance
- Individual and family grants
- Crisis counseling
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- FEMA Internet Registration
FEMA Phone Registration:
- FEMA Internet Registration
- Disaster Declarations
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – Tax Relief in Disaster Situations
- U.S. Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Disaster Assistance
- Small Business Association (SBA)’s Office of Disaster Assistance provides low-interest disaster loans to businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners, and renters to repair or replace real estate, personal property, machinery & equipment, inventory and business assets that have been damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster.
- Pinellas County Economic Development assists business owners through Florida’s Emergency Bridge Loan program, which provides a temporary cash flow to businesses impacted by a disaster.
- Find out what benefits you might be eligible to receive at Government Benefit Programs.
Other Relief Resources
- For assistance with relocation or other needs in the aftermath of a storm, contact the American Red Cross Tampa Bay Chapter at 813-348-4820.
- For information on assistance not covered by the American Red Cross, call 211 Tampa Bay Cares by dialing 211 from any phone.
Pinellas County Emergency Operations Center
Department of Emergency Management
During an emergency, call the County Information Center at 727-464-4333.