How to get FEMA assistance: All Central Florida counties now eligible

EOC officials warn of scams

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

ORLANDO, Fla. - Central Florida residents can start applying for federal disaster assistance Wednesday through FEMA, emergency management officials said.

Residents who sustained loses from Hurricane Irma can start applying for FEMA's individual and household programs, Florida Rep. Darren Soto said.

"FEMA issued a major disaster declaration for the State of Florida on Sept. 10, 2017, allowing for federal funds to be used in the recovery phase from Hurricane Irma," Soto said. "It has since been updated to include 21 counties eligible for individual and household assistance"

The 21 counties eligible for assistance include: Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, DeSoto, Duval, Flagler, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River,  Lake, Lee, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Sumter and Volusia counties.

To apply, visit www.disasterassistance.gov or download FEMA App by clicking on Disaster Resources. The process can also be started via phone by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). The number is toll free and operational between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. seven days a week.

A FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance Team arrived in Astor Tuesday to begin helping residents apply for assistance, Lake County officials said.

In Flagler, those without power can go to the Flagler County Library in Palm Coast.

Flagler County Administrator Craig Coffey warned of fraudsters trying to prey on Irma victims.

“Make a phone call, don’t take a phone call,” Coffey said. “FEMA representatives will not call you out of the blue. Do not give out your personal information to anyone who you have not called.”

FEMA officials have been trying to combat rumors and false information from spreading. The agency created a webpage exclusively for rumor control.

Anyone who suspects fraud should report it by contacting the National Center for Disaster Fraud’s hotline at 1-866-720-5721, or emailing  disaster@leo.gov. Residents can also report fraud to the Federal Trade Commission at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

In Florida, disaster-related fraud information is available on the State Attorney General’s Office website at www.MyFloridaLegal.com, or by calling the office at 1-866-966-7226.

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