News Flash

Recover Bay County

Posted on: November 16, 2018

Hurricane Michael Nov. 16 update

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ESSENTIAL INFORMATION

·        The Bay County Medical Examiner is reporting 21 casualties in Bay County.

·        The 211 Citizen Hotline continues to receive non-emergency calls. Out-of-state callers, call 850-248-6099.

·        Visit recoverbaycounty.com for recovery information.

·        On Saturday, Nov. 17, the National Weather Service calls for sunny, with a high near 68. North northeast wind around 5 mph. Saturday evening calls for mostly clear skies with a low                    around 47. Northeast wind around 5 mph.

Recover Bay County – by the numbers

Feeding Assistance:

Salvation Army: 468,453 total meals to date

Red Cross Meals:  375,776 total meals to date

Total sheltered:  240

Debris Management: An estimated 1.59 million cubic yards of debris have been removed in the unincorporated areas of Bay County.  

Shelter

The shelter at Arnold High School, located at 550 N. Alf Coleman Rd., Panama City Beach is still accepting Bay County residents in need of assistance. It is currently managed by the American Red Cross and Bay County Emergency Management. Three meals are provided daily. The shelter has access to medical, social services, transportation, postal services, recreational facilities, and climate-controlled accommodations for pets. Representatives from FEMA and other agencies that can help with the disaster recovery process are also available. 

Doorways of Northwest Florida

Doorways of Northwest Florida can provide assistance to Bay County residents who were homeless before or are now homeless due to Hurricane Michael. Doorways of Northwest Florida strives to educate, advocate, and eliminate homelessness in Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, and Washington counties. 

First steps towards housing assistance:

1.     Contact your insurance company if you have home owners insurance or renters insurance to begin a claim. Many may even cover Temporary Housing. 

2.     Contact FEMA to see if you are eligible for assistance. FEMA can be contacted directly at 1-800-621-3362 or visit www.disasterassistance.gov to start a claim.

3.     Contact family and/or friends who may be able to assist you until you are able to get back on your feel.

For those in need of housing assistance, residents can visit the office by appointment at the Florida Department of Health located at 597 W. 11th St., Panama City. The hours are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. To schedule an appointment, call (850) 819-1414 or stop by the clinic entrance check-in desk at the Florida Department of Health. For more information, email to info@doorwaysnwfl.org

Panama City Comfort Stations

The Panama City Comfort Stations continue to see decreased use among residents and will be closed in stages. The comfort stations at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center (705 E. 14th Ct.) and Daffin Park (320 Kraft Ave.) will remain open through Nov. 24.

Comfort station locations closing Nov. 17:

  • Boys and Girls Club - 3404 W. 19th St.
  • Al Helms Dog Park - 1022 Balboa Ave.

Comfort station locations closing Nov. 21:

  • Northstar Church - 2379 St Andrews Blvd.
  • Cove Shopping Center - 925 Cherry St.
  • Panama City Mall - Corner of 23rd St. and Hwy 77 by Dillard's

Property for FEMA Trailers

If a Bay County resident has property that might be suitable for housing FEMA trailers, residents can share this information with FEMA through an online form: https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/beb1d86dc4054bf78c04514980c940d1

How to Avoid and Where to Report Potential Fraud after a Disaster

In the wake of a disaster, it is wise to be aware of potential frauds and scams. Such events can attract criminals and con artists. If you believe you are the victim of a contracting scam or price gouging or other fraudulent activity, contact local law enforcement and report it to the Florida Office of the Attorney General on the Fraud Hotline at 866-966-7226, the FEMA Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721, email: disaster@leo.gov or contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.ftc.gov/complaint.

Here is a list of possible scams that may be attempted in counties affected by Hurricane Michael:

     Telephone calls

  • If you get a call informing you that you are eligible for a FEMA disaster assistance program, do not provide any personal information. Do not give out personal information or bank account information over the telephone. If you are contacted by someone you believe is a scammer, contact your local law enforcement agency.

        

    FEMA “Certified”

  • Sometimes persons may drive around a devastated neighborhood with a “FEMA Certified Contractor” sign on their vehicle. FEMA neither certifies nor endorses any private-sector contractor. (Individuals and government entities should be extremely cautious when hiring contractors after any disaster.)

    If someone claiming to be a contractor does contact you and stating they represent FEMA or that FEMA gave them your name, you should get as much information as you can about the contractor and report them to your local law enforcement agency.    

    An inspector comes to your home without a FEMA photo ID

  • Do not let someone into your home who claims to be a FEMA inspector but does not have a FEMA photo ID. Always ask to see a FEMA photo ID badge. A FEMA shirt or jacket is not proof of identity. All FEMA representatives, including our contracted inspectors, will have a laminated photo ID. If unsure, call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585.

    Someone comes to your home to conduct an inspection but asks for money before starting

  • Federal and state workers do not ask for—or accept—money. FEMA representatives will never charge for disaster assistance, home inspections or for help filling out applications. Stay alert for false promises to speed up the insurance, disaster assistance or building permit process.

        

    Charitable giving

  • A list of reputable charities that are approved by the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance is available at www.give.org. The Alliance advises “not responding to unsolicited emails, watching out for pushy telemarketers and looking out for fake charities that sound real by using similar names.” For more information about avoiding charitable giving scams, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website at www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts

        

    Rental listings

  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has information on how rental listing scams work. For instance, scammers know that finding the right apartment or vacation rental can be hard work, and a seemingly good deal is hard to pass up. Learn more at www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0079-rental-listing-scams.

        

    Damaged vehicles

  • Another fraud which may occur after a disaster, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), is the sale of a hurricane-damaged vehicle advertised as a good-conditioned used car. The NCIB operates the online VINCheck program which allows car buyers to see whether a vehicle has ever been declared as “salvage” or a total loss by an NICB member that participates in the program. Insurers representing about 88 percent of the personal auto insurance market provide their salvage data to the program. You can access VINCheck at www.nicb.org/how-we-help/vincheck.

        

    Utility repairs

  • Utility customers, especially electric power customers, should be on the lookout for scams in person, over the phone and online. Sometimes they pretend to be a company employee and ask for immediate payment by credit card, pre-paid debit card or gift card, and threaten to turn off service to your home or business. Never give credit card information over the phone unless you are certain of the identity of the caller. When in doubt, give your utility company a call

  • Rumor control

To dispel some of the false rumors circulating on the internet and social media, FEMA has a dedicated web page to address some of the most common themes. To get the most accurate information from trusted sources visit our rumor control page for Hurricane Michael at www.fema.gov/hurricane-michael-rumor-control.

Free Legal Assistance Available 

A legal aid hotline is available for Hurricane Michael survivors in Florida who cannot pay for an attorney: 1-866-550-2929. The hotline operates through a partnership between The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division, the American Bar Association (ABA) Young Lawyers Division, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). 

Both English and Spanish voicemail recordings give instructions for callers to leave a message requesting storm-related legal assistance, and to provide their name, telephone number, county of residence, and a description of their legal problems. Assistance through this hotline is available to qualified Floridians affected by Hurricane Michael in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty, Taylor, Wakulla, Washington counties. 

Those who qualify will be matched with Florida lawyers who have volunteered to provide free legal help such as: 

• Securing FEMA and other benefits 

• Making life, medical and property insurance claims 

• Dealing with home repair contractors 

• Replacing wills and other important legal documents destroyed in the hurricane 

• Helping with consumer protection matters, remedies and procedures 

• Counseling on mortgage-foreclosure problems or landlord/tenant issues 

Callers can leave a message on the hotline at any time. Calls will be returned within two business days between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. There are some limitations: for example, assistance is not available for cases in which fees are paid as part of a settlement or award from a court. Such cases will be referred to a lawyer referral service. Funding for this hotline comes from FEMA under the authority of Section 415 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency assistance Act (Public Law 100-707).

Bay Town Trolley

The Bay Town Trolley has eight routes in Bay County that are operating daily from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. The Bay Town Trolley is taking flag stops. Riders should be patient due to traffic. Plan your route ahead with the online trip planner at www.baytowntrolley.org/. For additional fixed route information, call 850-960-1084.  

Disaster Unemployment Assistance

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) has extended the application deadline for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) to Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. DUA is available to Florida residents whose employment or self-employment was lost or interrupted as a direct result of Hurricane Michael.

DEO is currently accepting applications for DUA from residents and businesses in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Leon, Liberty, Taylor, Wakulla and Washington counties. Individuals affected in these designated-disaster areas must file DUA applications by Dec 7, 2018. Applications filed after the deadline will be considered untimely and DUA benefits may be denied unless the individual provides good cause.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance is available to those who:

·        Worked or were self-employed or were scheduled to begin work or self-employment;

·        Are not able to work or perform services because of physical damage of destruction to the place of employment as a direct result of the disaster;

·        Can establish that the work or self-employment they can no longer perform was their principal source of income; 

·        Do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits from any state;

·        Cannot perform work or self-employment because of an injury as a direct result of the disaster; or

·        Became the breadwinner or major supporter of a household because the former breadwinner’s death occurred as a result of the major disaster.

Applicants must submit their Social Security number, check stubs and documentation to support the claim that they were working or self-employed when the disaster occurred. In some cases, additional documentation may be required. To receive DUA benefits, all required documentation must be submitted within 21 days from the date the DUA application is filed.

 
DUA is available for weeks of unemployment beginning October 14, 2018, until April 13, 2019, as long as the individual’s unemployment continues to be a result of the disaster. To file a DUA claim, go to www.FloridaJobs.org or call 1-800-385-3920. Customer service representatives are available Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time to assist claimants. For DUA claims information, call 1-800-204-2418 and choose the speak to an agent option to speak to a customer service representative.

FEMA Assistance/Disaster Recovery Centers

FEMA is committed to ensuring that services and assistance are available for people with access and functional needs. FEMA offers many ways to help register by Dec. 10. Equipped with accessible ramps, parking and restrooms, Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) provide one-on-one consultation and resources such as captioned phones and iPads linked to video-remote sign language interpreters. The DRCs are open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. If a disaster survivor cannot travel to the DRC, FEMA will arrange a home visit.

·        Bay County Public Library DRC, 898 W 11th Street, Panama City

·        John B. Gore Park DRC, 599 Beulah Ave., Callaway

·        Youngstown Fountain Recreation Park, 12421 E. Hwy. 20, Fountain (Open through Nov. 21)

A DRC provides survivors information about FEMA programs and can help survivors apply for federal disaster assistance. Representatives from FEMA, U.S. Small Business Administration, volunteer groups and other agencies will be at the center to answer questions about disaster assistance and low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters and businesses. When registering, survivors should let FEMA staff know if they have an accommodation request.

If you were affected by Hurricane Michael in Florida and need a sign language interpreter, foreign language translator, a Braille document or large-print or electronic file and it is not available on the FEMA website (Resources-people-disabilities-access-functional-needs), call 470-364-7252. To register for assistance, go to DisasterAssistance.gov, the FEMA app on phones/tablets, or call 800-621-3362, 800-462-7585 (TTY). Multilingual operators are available 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Mobile Registration Intake Centers

FEMA has deployed Mobile Communications Office Vehicles in the Individual Assistance designated counties to serve as Mobile Registration Intake Centers (MRICs). Individual Assistance specialists, Small Business Administration, FEMA Disaster Survivor Assistance, and State Disaster Case Managers will be available at these centers. These centers will be temporarily at these locations and hours of operation will be 8 a.m. – 7 p.m., seven days a week until further notice. 

Bay County - Lynn Haven City Hall 826 Ohio Drive, Lynn Haven, FL 32444 
Bay County - Mexico Beach City Hall 201 Paradise Path, Mexico Beach, FL 32410 
Bay County - Parking Lot 225 S. Tyndall Parkway , Panama City, FL 32404 

SBA Disaster Loans

When you register for disaster assistance, the U.S. Small Business Administration may contact you to offer the opportunity to apply for a low-interest disaster loan to repair or rebuild your damaged home. An SBA disaster loan may be your best recovery step, particularly when repairs are not covered by other sources such as insurance.

A submitted application may also make you eligible for other federal assistance. You are not obligated to accept an SBA loan, but here are some potential benefits in applying:

·        If you do not have enough insurance for required repairs, an SBA loan may cover the difference.

·        If eligible, a survivor may borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace a primary dwelling to pre-disaster condition.

·        Some applicants may be eligible to include their pre-existing mortgage in an SBA loan to reduce payment hardship.

·        In addition to funds for a damaged or destroyed primary residence, a loan may help homeowners or renters repair or replace clothing, furniture, cars and appliances.

·        If the SBA does not approve a loan, you may be referred to FEMA for a grant to replace essential household items, replace or repair a damaged vehicle, pay for storage expenses or meet          other serious needs.

If you wish to complete a paper loan application, request one from the SBA. Visit https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela or call 800-659-2955, (800-877-8339 TTY). For other information, visit DisasterAssistance.gov or call 800-621-3362, (800-462-7585 TTY). If you need a sign language interpreter, foreign language translator, a Braille document or large-print or electronic files, call 470-364-7252.

SBA Mobile Business Recovery Centers

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has set up Mobile Business Recover Centers to provide one–on-one assistance for businesses. The SBA offers low-interest, long-term disaster loans for physical damage and working capital. SBA representatives at the centers will provide information about disaster loans, answer questions and assist businesses with completing the SBA application. The Business Recovery Centers (located below) will operate until further notice.

Bay County City Job Center Parking Lot

625 Hwy 231, Panama City

Mon.- Sat., 8 a.m.- 5 p.m.

Lynn Haven City Hall Parking Lot

817 Ohio Ave, Lynn Haven

Mon.- Sat., 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. Closing: Sat., Nov. 17

SBA customer service representatives are also located at the Disaster Recovery Centers. If you cannot get to a center, disaster survivors may register for federal assistance online at DisasterAssistance.gov and apply for SBA disaster loan assistance using the electronic loan application via the SBA’s website at DisasterLoan.sba.gov. If online or mobile access is unavailable, call the FEMA toll-free helpline at 800-621-3362. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services should call 800-621-3362.

Additional details on the locations of Disaster Recovery Centers, Business Recovery Centers and the loan application process can be obtained by calling the SBA Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 (800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or by e-mail to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

The filing deadline to return SBA disaster loan applications for physical property damage is Dec. 10, 2018.  The deadline to return economic injury applications is July 11, 2019.

City of Parker 

The City of Parker is continuing to make progress with debris pickup, reaching 175,000 cubic yards as of Dec. 15.  

Salvation Army feeding center at the Parker firehouse will shut down after this Sunday, Nov. 18.

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