How to apply for FEMA assistance: 13 Florida counties qualify for aid after Hurricane Ian

Florida residents in 13 counties who were impacted by Hurricane Ian can begin applying for FEMA disaster assistance.

Those living in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Orange, Osceola, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, and Seminole counties qualify for federal aid.

Here's how to apply for FEMA assistance:

For those who use a relay service such as video relay service (VRS), captioned telephone service or others, you can provide FEMA the number for that service instead.

MORE: Hurricane Ian insured losses could total $40 billion, adding pressure to Florida's property insurance market

READ: Parts of Wauchula underwater in aftermath of Hurricane Ian

While applying, make sure you have the following information handy:

  • A current phone number where you can be contacted
  • Your address at the time of the disaster and the address where you are now staying
  • Your Social Security number
  • A general list of damage and losses
  • Banking information if you choose direct deposit
  • If insured, the policy number or the agent and/or the company name

Those who apply can be eligible to receive assistance for uninsured and underinsured damage and losses that resulted from Hurricane Ian.

Thursday's view of a marina in downtown Fort Myers, contrasted with a photo from before Hurricane Ian. (NOAA)

MORE: NOAA maps show street-by-street views of Hurricane Ian's destruction

If you have homeowners, renters, or flood insurance, you should file a claim as soon as possible. FEMA cannot duplicate benefits for losses covered by insurance. Property damage caused by wind is typically covered under standard policies for homeowners, renters, and businesses.

However, if your policy doesn’t cover all your disaster expenses, you may be eligible for federal assistance.

Make sure to take photos and video documenting the damage, which can help speed up the claims process. If your insurer offers a fast track or fast claim service, including phone apps, use those.

Also, begin cleanup and repairs to avoid further damage, FEMA officials said. 

FORT MYERS BEACH, FL - SEPTEMBER 29 Washed-up boats and destruction at Fort Myers Beach, FL, following Hurricane Ian on Thursday, September 29, 2022. (Ted Richardson/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Florida's insurance commissioner issued an emergency order to temporarily prevent property insurers from dropping customers in the aftermath of Ian. That order will suspend cancelations or non-renewals of policies for two months until Nov. 28. 

It comes amid widespread concerns about how the hurricane would affect the market.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said he's confident that state-backed Citizens Property Insurance will not have a problem paying claims. The bigger question is how Ian could affect private insurers.

He said a significant part of Ian's damage will come from flooding, which is largely insured through the National Flood Insurance Program.