FEMA administrators arrive in Central Florida to assess Hurricane Ian assistance needs

ORLANDO, Fla. — Many people in Central Florida are now looking for help after Hurricane Ian.


President Joe Biden has approved a major disaster declaration for Orange, Osceola, Polk, and Seminole Counties in Central Florida.

READ: HURRICANE IAN UPDATES: Florida officials fear Hurricane Ian’s death toll could substantially rise

With that approval, residents who live in neighborhoods that were damaged or destroyed by the hurricane can start applying for assistance from the federal government.

Administrators with the Federal Emergency Management Agency have arrived in Central Florida to help local leaders assess just how extensive the need for help will be.

“We have the resources and we have the ability to help the people recover from this disaster,” FEMA Administrator Charles Williams said.

However, Williams acknowledges that calling their 800 number may not be the best option for those seeking assistance.

READ: 9 ways to take care of your mental health after Hurricane Ian

According to FEMA’s website, there have been more than 800 declared disasters across the country dating back to 2017, meaning applicants who call the hotline may find themselves waiting for hours, or competing with people who have filed appeals on existing claims and anyone applying for help from newly-declared disasters.

“So you’re competing with people…survivors from California, Puerto Rico and New York.”

Williams says it’s also important to remember the funding is not unlimited.

“The purpose of FEMA is not to be your insurance policy, to make them whole, but to assist in your recovery effort,” Williams said.

That’s why, Williams says, FEMA assistance is capped at $37,000 per applicant.

READ: Safety tips for flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian

Williams says other Florida counties are still going through the process of receiving the disaster declaration, so it’s possible there are some in Central Florida who have damage, but aren’t yet eligible to apply.

For more information on the assistance application process, click here.

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