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  • Senator Rick Scott Hurricane Sally Update

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    September 22, 2020
    Good Afternoon All,
    First and foremost, thank you to each of you and your organizations for your selfless service to our community. Whether it is a global pandemic, a terrorist attack, or natural disaster(s), our sense of community spirit humbles and inspires. While Hurricane Sally brought devastating damages to our region, I know that we will overcome this storm as we have every challenge before—together. As we move from response to recovery, I wanted to share the resources listed below. As things evolve, I will make sure to notify you all of any significant updates.
    On September 16th, President Trump approved Florida’s Emergency Declaration authorizing federal emergency aid to supplement state and local response efforts to the emergency conditions. To read the declaration, please visit the FEMA website here. FEMA has designated Hurricane Sally as EM-3546-FL, and will provide updated status summaries here with guidance on the Stafford Declaration process here. While a decision on the Major Disaster Declaration is pending, please note that the Florida Emergency Declaration does not include full public or individual assistance at this time.
    Our office stands ready and prepared to support you all throughout this process, as best as we can. It is our goal to work with our federal, state, and local partners to provide the resources needed to recover. To ensure our team remains responsive while in the field, I’d like to introduce my colleague, Sebastian Leon. He serves as the Deputy Regional Director for Northwest Florida, and works hand in hand with me throughout the Panhandle. While he is new to this role, he has been a valued member of our team for many years. To get to know Sebastian a little better, I’ve included a brief biography below. Please feel free to include him on any emails to me in the future, especially during these challenging times. We will make sure to reach out to you as quickly as possible.  If you need anything, please do not hesitate to contact us.
    Sebastian Leon, Northwest Florida Regional Deputy Director
    Office of U.S. Senator Rick Scott
    Sebastian Leon serves as the Northwest Florida Regional Deputy Director for U.S. Senator Rick Scott. As the Deputy Director, he works alongside the Regional Director to build relationships between Senator Scott and community stakeholders. Before joining Senator Scott in the U.S. Senate, Sebastian worked in multiple roles for the Exectuive Office of Florida Governor Rick Scott and the Florida State Senate. His experience includes state legislation, appointments, communications, and external affairs. Sebastian is an alumni of Florida State University, where he received a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Master’s degree in Applied American Politics and Policy.

    U.S. Sen. Rick Scott Shares Resources on Hurricane Sally Recovery Efforts

    Hurricane Sally made landfall along the Florida/ Alabama border on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 as a Category 2 storm, bringing torrential rain, significant storm surge, and historic flooding to the Florida Panhandle.

    Prior to the Hurricane Sally’s landfall, Senator Rick Scott joined his colleagues in a
    letter urging President Trump to approve the State of Florida’s request for a pre-fall emergency declaration to make additional resources available for storm response and recovery. This request was approved on September 15, 2020, and can be found HERE. The State of Florida has since requested a Major Disaster Declaration, which is currently under review by FEMA.

    Senator Scott remains in constant communication with state, local and federal officials, and will continue to work to make sure they have everything they need to help Panhandle families stay safe and recover. 

    Floridians in need of assistance with federal resources following the impacts of Hurricane Sally can contact Senator Scott’s office
    For Individuals:
    As recovery efforts continue, stay up-to-date with information from your local Emergency Management officials. Find your county’s information HERE. Impacted Floridians should not return home until the area is declared to be safe by local officials. Read more from FEMA about returning home HERE.

    Floridians should also continue to take every precaution to stay healthy and protect themselves and their families from the coronavirus. Read more from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
    FEMA’s role is to help communities prepare for and recover from disasters. Find information specific to Hurricane Sally on FEMA’s website HERE and HERE, or by calling the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-3362.

    National Flood Insurance Program
    Following a
    Presidential Disaster Declaration, FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policyholders are encouraged to apply for FEMA disaster assistance in addition to their flood insurance claim.

    Policyholders impacted by Hurricane Sally are encouraged to contact their insurance agents as soon as possible for more information about filing a claim. Get more details about filing a claim
    HERE or reach NFIP assistance directly by calling 1-877-336-2627.
    Once starting a claim, FEMA suggests documenting all damage, including photos and videos, recording serial numbers and securing receipts. FEMA also recommends policyholders should take steps to stop the spread of mold if safe to do so.

    Citizens Property Insurance
    Citizens Property Insurance is urging policyholders to contact them as soon as possible in the wake of Hurricane Sally. Citizens representatives can be reached online HERE or by calling 1-866-411-2742.

    Additionally, Citizens is warning policyholders to be wary of unlicensed contractors and “deals that sound too good to be true.” Policyholders are discouraged from signing anything before consulting with an insurance agent. Citizens policyholders can report suspected fraud to the Citizens Special Investigations Unit online
    HERE or by calling 1-855-748-9596.

    U.S. Housing and Urban Development
    The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also offers disaster recovery assistance following Presidentially declared disasters. Read more from HUD HERE.
    For Businesses:
    U.S. Small Business Administration
    The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides low-interest disaster loans to help businesses and homeowners recover from declared disasters.
    In alignment with Florida’s current Emergency Disaster Declaration, small businesses and most private nonprofit organizations in Escambia, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa can now apply for low-interest disaster loans from the SBA.

    In accordance with health precautions for COVID-19, the SBA will not establish a field presence to assist survivors. However, the SBA will continue to provide customer service and conduct outreach virtually with webinars, skype calls, phone assistance and step-by-step application assistance. The SBA has opened a Virtual Disaster Loan Outreach Center/Business Recovery Center (VDLOC/VBRC) to help survivors apply online using the Electronic Loan Application found

    The VDLOC/VBRC is open daily from 7:00am – 7:00am CDT and can be contacted at
    FOCE-Help@sba.gov or 1-800-659-2955.

    Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
    The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s Business Damage Assessment Survey is activated to help guide business recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sally.
    This program gathers information from businesses affected by disasters and shares it with local, state and federal agencies to help determine which emergency support programs might aid recovery efforts in the area. Read more or complete the survey
    Additional Resources:
    Food and Water
    Floridians in need of food and water can find a nearby point of distribution location HERE.

    Storms can affect public water treatment plants, water lines and private wells - citizens affected by the storms must err on the side of caution until their water is tested. Read more from the Florida Department of Health

    Shelters are currently open and available in the Florida Panhandle. Shelter locations can be found on your county’s Emergency Management website HERE, through the American Red Cross HERE, or by calling 311.
    Mental Health Resources
    You are not alone. If you are in need of support through any disaster, crisis or circumstance, please reach out.

    Florida 211

    Florida 211 connects individuals to local helpline call centers that have crisis counselors for disaster recovery and can provide information on access to local resources such as housing, food and health care.
    Connect by phone 24/7 by dialing: 2-1-1

    Disaster Distress Helpline
    Disaster Distress Helpline is a national helpline that provides crisis support services for individuals in emotional distress that are impacted by disaster.
    Connect by phone 24/7 at 1-800-985-5990 or by texting “TalkWithUs” to 66746

    Price Gouging Hotline
    Florida Attorney General Moody’s Price Gouging Hotline remains open and accessible for consumers to report extreme price increases and storm-related scams. After a natural disaster, consumers should be wary of tree service scams, building and home repair scams, disaster relief scams and water testing and treatment scams. State law also prohibits excessive price increases during storm-related states of emergency on essential commodities, including food, water, hotel rooms, ice, gasoline and lumber.

    If you feel you have been a victim of price gouging, report online
    HERE, by calling 1-866-9NO-SCAM, or by downloading the NO SCAM app. Read more about disaster-related scams HERE.
    Helpful Reminders:
    • Use extreme caution when operating heavy machinery, generators, or while removing debris. Never use generators indoors and keep them away from windows, doors and vents.
    • Wear sturdy shoes or boots when walking on, or near, debris. Wear long sleeves and gloves when handling debris.
    • Be careful during clean-up. Wear protective clothing, use appropriate face coverings or masks if cleaning mold or other debris, and maintain a physical distance of at least six feet while working with someone else. People with asthma and other lung conditions and/or immune suppression should not enter buildings with indoor water leaks or mold growth that can be seen or smelled, even if they do not have an allergy to mold.
    • Continue taking steps to protect yourself from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, such as washing your hands often and cleaning commonly touched surfaces.
    • When clearing debris from a property, know the location of all utilities, both underground and overhead to prevent injury. Do not place items in front of, around or on top of buried and above ground utilities.
    • Use caution around any buried utilities. Cutting vital communications assets such as fiber optic lines can cause a loss of cellular networks, including cell phone service or access to the internet. Residents in Alabama and Florida should call 8-1-1 before digging so utilities can be marked in advance.
    • Don’t drive or walk through flood waters. Be aware of downed power lines, standing water and other hidden hazards. 
    • Stay off roads so that emergency workers are able to get through.
    The following Twitter accounts, along with your local Sheriff’s Office, Police Department, and County Emergency Operations Center (EOC), may be helpful for up-to-date information and resources on Hurricane Sally.