In the nine months since Hurricane Irma brought high wind and flooding rain to Florida, FEMA has provided $1 billion to help individuals, families, local governments and nonprofit organizations recover and rebuild. The Small Business Administration has approved $1.4 billion in loans to renters, homeowners and business owners. The National Flood Insurance Program has paid more than $919 million in claims to Floridians.
The state of Florida offered $25 million to citrus growers through the Florida Citrus Emergency Loan Program and activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan program. The state also provided 25 percent of the funding for the Transitional Sheltering Assistance program, which paid for short-term hotel stays for Irma survivors; 75 percent of the cost of TSA was paid by FEMA.
In addition to support from the state of Florida and the federal government, survivors are receiving help from friends and neighbors who are pitching in to meet Irma-related needs.
The state and federal governments have significant, but not infinite, resources. There are some things that government cannot fund, due to budgetary or legal constraints. Long-Term Recovery Groups may be able to fill those gaps by providing money, labor, and materials that address unmet needs.
LTRGs are nonprofit, community-based organizations made up of volunteers, civic groups and residents of the affected area. The groups reflect the diversity of the community and focus on locally-driven solutions that will serve the people living in the community. By working together, LTRGs are able to leverage resources from a variety of sources like philanthropies, charitable organizations and faith-based groups who supply donated goods, volunteer labor and funding.
As the groups began to form in the wake of Hurricane Irma, FEMA Voluntary Agency Liaisons crisscrossed the state meeting with local groups and offered technical assistance to the LTRGs. The Voluntary Agency Liaisons are experienced emergency management professionals who can share best practices from past disasters, guide LTRGs as they develop bylaws and committees and identify services that may be available to aid survivors.
There are currently more than 20 LTRGs throughout Florida. LTRGs have helped survivors rehabilitate their storm-damaged homes using volunteer labor and donated building materials. In some cases, LTRGs have paid for supplies and equipment survivors need as they recover from Hurricane Irma. The groups also assess needs, offer information, and help survivors develop recovery plans.
Volunteer Florida recently gave $5 million to fund LTRGs and agencies assisting survivors. FEMA and the state of Florida will continue partnering with the LTRGs as the recovery continues.
For more information about a Long-Term Recovery Group in your community, please call 211.
For more Hurricane Irma recovery information, visit www.FEMA.gov/IrmaFL.