Hurricane Irma Recovery Program
Hurricane Irma—the second of three devastating hurricanes to hit the U.S. in 2017—brought damaging winds and flooding from the U.S. Virgin Islands to Puerto Rico, across Florida and five other states. As the storm threatened the entire state of Florida, millions of people evacuated. High winds and storm surge brought widespread damage destroyed thousands of homes.
In the immediate response, Red Cross volunteers joined with our partners to provide shelter for tens of thousands of people with nowhere else to turn, as well as food, relief supplies and comfort for hurricane survivors. The Red Cross also provided financial assistance to help severely affected households buy necessities like groceries and clothing.
Now that the emergency phase of our response is complete, the Red Cross is focused on delivering programs that will help people recover and address lingering community needs. In Florida, the Red Cross is using donated dollars to provide financial assistance to households that need extra help and planning to provide grants for community-based recovery services.
Financial Assistance for Households
In Florida, the Red Cross is providing financial assistance for households in need of recovery assistance and whose homes experienced major damage or were destroyed by Hurricane Irma.
Major Damage to a home is indicated by significant structural damage that requires extensive repairs. This includes: failure to structural elements of the roof and walls; failure of the foundation, including crumbling, bulging, or collapsing; or a flood water line above the electrical outlets.
A home that is destroyed is one that is a total loss with damage so extensive that repair is not feasible. This includes complete failure of two or more major structural components such as the collapse of basement walls, foundation, load-bearing walls or roof; or where only the foundation remains.
There are two paths to accessing Red Cross recovery assistance and the eligibility criteria are the same for everyone. The Red Cross is not accepting applications for assistance at its offices.
In the first pathway, the Red Cross is offering recovery assistance directly to the thousands of Florida households whose primary homes were inspected and confirmed by FEMA to have been destroyed or sustained major damage from Hurricane Irma. We are taking this step to provide recovery assistance as quickly as possible by using information already collected and verified by FEMA.
FEMA registered households that are eligible include those whose:
- Primary, pre-disaster residence was located in one of the 49 federally declared Florida counties (proof that the applicant is the legal owner or lessee of the residence verified by FEMA); and
- Primary, pre-disaster residence was destroyed or sustained major damage in Hurricane Irma (verification by FEMA); and
- Head of household communicates that recovery assistance is needed and confirms mailing address in response to Red Cross email or text message.
The Red Cross is sending personalized email and text messages asking these FEMA-registered households if recovery assistance is needed. Households must respond to the personalized email or text sent directly to them as indicated in the message.
As part of this outreach, the Red Cross may ask that people upload identification documents in order to process applications for financial assistance.
Documentation to validate identity can include U.S. or foreign passport, government issued driver’s license, government issued ID, military ID or dependents card, permanent resident card, and consular identification.
The Red Cross takes the privacy and security of personal records very seriously and will ensure confidentiality throughout the application process.
Personal information stays confidential; documents and data remain private at all times.
The Red Cross will not ask for social security or bank account information to affected households.
The second pathway is for Florida households whose homes were destroyed or sustained major damage but did not register with or qualify for FEMA assistance. These households must apply for Red Cross financial assistance by working through a local disaster case management agency. People who do not have a Disaster Case Manager can call 1-800-RED CROSS and select option 4.
Eligible households include those whose:
- Primary, pre-disaster residence was located in one of the 49 federally declared Florida counties (proof that the applicant is the legal owner or lessee of the residence is required); and
- Primary, pre-disaster residence was destroyed or sustained major damage in Hurricane Irma (verification of damage is required); and
- Head of household is working with a Disaster Case Manager to address Hurricane Irma-related recovery needs.
A Disaster Case Manager will assess the disaster-related needs of each household, evaluate eligibility for financial assistance from the Red Cross and other sources, complete an application with the household, and submit the application to the Red Cross.
After the Disaster Case Manager submits a complete application, the Red Cross will review all of the documentation. Once the application is validated and approved, the Red Cross will mail a check to the household. We expect checks to be issued in about 7-10 business days after Red Cross approval.
Red Cross financial assistance is not a loan and will not need to be repaid. All Red Cross services, including financial assistance, are available to those in need regardless of citizenship status, nationality, race, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, class or political opinions. The Red Cross is a charity, not a government agency, and people do not need to be American citizens to receive our help.
In the future, the Red Cross also plans to support Florida community-based recovery efforts through strategic grants to non-profit organizations with a strong track record of providing services in each program area.
The Red Cross will support organizations addressing the following areas of need: home repair and rebuilding; behavioral health services across the affected counties, with a focus on the needs of children and youth; recovery-supporting services, such as Long-Term Recovery Committees, financial counseling and programs that assist people with disabilities, the elderly, and underserved communities.