:My family suffered damage (flooding) at our home in Southwest Florida. As upsetting as this event has been, it could have been so much worse. Our home is still standing and we were not there during the storm. My heart goes out to all those who have suffered loss – this truly was a life-altering event and it’s going to take time to rebuild and decompress.
In doing research for help and assistance, I’ve found the following resources which I hope are helpful.
DEALING WITH DAMAGE
IMPORTANT – TAKE PHOTOS of everything the way it looked after the storm. If you’ve already started, that’s OK! Just make sure to take some pictures of the process. Even if you don’t have insurance, you may qualify for other assistance and photos are an important part of documenting your damage.
If you need immediate assistance getting rid of flood/surge water items like flooring, furniture, carpeting, drywall, trees, etc., please visit http://crisiscleanup.org/
Crisis Cleanup is a coordination website for relief agencies. They try to connect survivors who need help, with volunteer groups that can help.
There are also Church Groups that are offering assistance in the area.
Disaster Relief form here: https://firstnaples.org/ian
Teams of helpers are also available from:
If you’re trying to do your own water/mold abatement, it’s important to get rid of anything that had significant contact with stormwater (sadly, POOP water!) Many sewer treatment plants flooded into waterways, so there’s a very high chance that the water that is in/through your property has more than dirt in it. Building materials such as drywall, flooring, carpeting, porous wood, cabinets that are not hardwood, have absorbed water and can be a mold hazard within days.
In addition to removal, you will need tools such as fans, mold bombs, air scrubbers, and a mold-killing agent to treat all areas. It’s also important to have your HVAC system cleaned or you will just reinfect everything you’ve just cleaned inside your home! Mold spores can grow quickly and will be in your HVAC unless you reverse clean them. You can do this yourself, or have an HVAC company do it for you.
Can’t treat your home? Companies like SERVPRO will come in with a team and rip everything out that has been contaminated, dry, and treat your home. It’s NOT cheap, but they are effective. Remember the service they provide is just to REMOVE and treat. Often you’ll have to fix your own drywall, flooring, etc. after they are done.
There are many YOUTUBE videos on drywall removal and repair.
MANY renters lost everything. They have flood-damaged homes and can not return. They also lost all of their belongings. If you fall into this category, please know your rights as a renter. Landlords are not responsible for your damage, that’s what Renter’s Insurance is for. It is important you review your lease about how to terminate any agreement if your unit is not habitable. Click here to read about tenant rights.
FEMA offers immediate assistance to renters, landlords, and primary homeowners. Click here for FEMA’s Hurricane Ian Help Page
FEMA also offers Small Business Loans which can help rebuild your primary property. Sadly if you have a second home or vacation home that was not actively a rental (as a rental business), then you can not qualify for a FEMA loan or assistance.
Finally, in this uncertain and challenging time, it’s hard to know which business is open or closed.
This link is a LIVE look with user input as to WHO is open and when. https://floridadisaster.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=155c328626384178b4735e9a1fabfd43
NEED FOOD, CLOTHING & FURNITURE?
FEMA & the American Red Cross are a great place to start. However, many local BUY NOTHING Facebook Groups *you will have to ask to join on Facebook, have been exceptionally helpful. You’ll find many businesses, local nonprofits, churches and individuals offering clothing and furniture. On Facebook, in the search box type in Buy Nothing and then your local city – like Naples, Fort Myers, Bonita Beach, Cape Coral, etc.
Here are additional organizations that are offering assistance:
TAKING CARE OF YOU
This is a stressful time and while dealing with the aftermath and disaster from Hurricane Ian, it’s important to take time to be kind to yourself.
For Moms – I recommend Paradise Coast Parent on Facebook. She posts places offering help, free food, and fun ideas of things to do with kids. Visit her here.
Naples News has lifted the paywall right now, so you can see what’s going on in the community.
Collier County Emergency Notices on Twitter here and Lee County Emergency Twitter here
I’ve already had some shady calls, so be on high alert for those who try to prey on those of us who suffered damage. When you have power back, considering getting a RING or security camera in place. Verify EVERYTHING when getting work done. Confirm licenses, names, times, etc. and that the person who hired to help you is actually a real person. Do NOT pay people up front unless you are positive they are a vetted business.
If you have any questions or additional resources, please reach out to me at email@example.com
Good luck, and we will all get through this!