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Federal Assistance Available for Tropical Storm Debby Victims in Polk, Sarasota

Tropical Storm Debby survivors in Polk and Sarasota counties can now apply for federal disaster assistance.

That means survivors and business owners who sustained damages or losses in those counties, money for temporary housing, essential home repairs and other disaster-related expenses not covered by insurance may be available. Renters, homeowners and business owners can register for help through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Survivors can register with FEMA by one of the following methods:

·         Call 800-621-FEMA (3362). Assistance is available in most languages and lines are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. If you are deaf or hard of hearing and use a TTY,  call 800-462-7585.

·         Go online to www.DisasterAssistance.gov.

·         By smartphone or tablet, use the FEMA app or go to m.fema.gov.

FEMA will ask for the following information:

  • The telephone number where you can be reached;
  • The address where you lived at the time of the disaster and the address where you are staying;
  • Your Social Security number;
  • A general description of damage to your property and other losses;
  • The name of your insurance company and policy number or agent if you have property insurance; and
  • Your bank account routing information if you want FEMA to use direct deposit.

Suspicions of fraud or attempts to scam survivors should be reported to local law enforcement immediately. People who suspect anyone of committing contractor fraud should contact the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation by calling 866-532-1440 or by emailing ULA@dbpr.state.fl.us.

Community relations teams canvassing disaster areas:

Community relations teams are in designated counties going door to door with disaster assistance information to help survivors recover from Tropical Storm Debby.

Anyone representing the SERT or FEMA, including FEMA-contracted home and property damage inspectors, carries a photo ID ensuring they are easily identifiable. FEMA and SERT teams wear agency shirts.

SBA low-interest disaster loans:

Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration are also available to help with residential and business losses not covered by insurance.

Survivors and businesses may obtain information on SBA disaster loan applications by calling 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for people who are deaf or hard of hearing and use a TTY) or online at www.sba.gov.

·         They may also apply for disaster loans at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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