More than a year after Hurricane Irma, blue tarps still lay on roofs across South Florida. According to the Miami Herald, tens of thousands of homeowners across the state are still waiting for assistance to pay for damages to their houses and many have sued insurance companies.
“Rebuild Florida” is a new program by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity that is providing more than $600 million to those who qualify to help fix or replace their homes. Anyone who suffered damages from Hurricane Irma can apply online or at either of the nine physical locations across Miami-Dade, Monroe and Broward County.
Cissy Proctor, executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity, joined Sundial to talk about the assistance the program is providing, how to apply and who is eligible.
To register for the program, visit RebuildFlorida.gov or call 844-833-1010. Eligible Floridians have until Dec. 23, 2018 to register.
Proctor: So the focus of this program is to assist low-income families across the state in the most impacted counties. We're looking at what the family makeup is and going to be giving priority to the most vulnerable residents of Florida including seniors, families with children that are five or under, families with individuals with disabilities as well as folks who moved to Florida from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands after Hurricane Maria. We're encouraging that everyone register but we are giving priority to those vulnerable individuals.
WLRN: What have you seen? What surprised you about what you've been hearing?
There are a lot of people out there that still need assistance and we've met with them, we've seen their houses, we've seen the damage, we've seen the blue tarps on the roofs and we know that they [residents] are excited about the fact that there is still help out there. That's why we want to make sure we get the word out any way we can to those who need it. We want to make sure that if they are eligible for the program they have a safe and secure home to live in. We know down in the Keys there are folks that are still living in ... a trailer on their front lawn because their home isn't repaired and there are no more FEMA dollars there are no more SBA (Small Business Administration) dollars.
Could this help people who had a total loss?
It can not only repair your home but if you need a new roof or if you had flooding damage it can also completely rebuild the home depending on the extent of the damage. The Keys are a good example of that. We know that there are homes that were down the Keys that were built before the strong building codes that came out after Hurricane Andrew. They may not even be elevated on stilts but this program will bring them up to code and make them safe and strong, which means they will be elevated and rebuilt.