Disaster Preparation and Recovery
Community Legal Services helps people affected by disasters by providing no-cost disaster recovery legal services and assistance in identifying other available resources. This page provides a collection of information to help you and your family members when faced with disaster.
Go to our Disaster webpage to read detailed information about your legal rights during and after a natural disaster.
Watch this video from The American Red Cross about preparing your family ahead of time.
This page also contains some of FEMA’s family worksheets to help you be prepared for various situations. You can download these from the top right section of the page.
Governor’s webpage – Provides up to date information regarding Executive Orders and press releases from the Governor’s office.
Situation map – Prepare for projected path of active storms by using this storm tracker.
During a Disaster
See the Florida Supreme Court website for announcements on court closures: https://www.floridasupremecourt.org/Weather-Related-Emergency-Orders
Missed a legal deadline due to a storm? Orders are issued by the Chief Justice retroactively extending deadlines in affected areas. Attorneys and others who missed legal deadlines or hearing dates will be protected by these orders, which will be issued once the courts in these areas reopen. They will be posted as they are issued on the FL Supreme Court Administrative Orders page.
Getting around after a storm can be difficult due to flooding and storm debris. Here are some resources to assist.
- Find gas with GasBuddy
- Toll suspension information can be found on the Florida Department of Transportation website
Florida’s Shelter Information Index website provides the links to each counties’ shelter information page, keeps a status page of open shelters, and provides special needs shelter information.
If the need to evacuate arises, some hotel chains will offer discounted rates to impacted residents. Below are links to some that frequently offer disaster-related discounts.
- Rosen Hotels & Resorts offers “Distress Rates” for Floridians Evacuating. Pet-friendly, no additional pet fees during the “distress rates.”
Items to take with you to a shelter:
- Identification, important papers, cash. (Keep these items on you at all times. Shelters are not responsible for lost or stolen items.)
- Special dietary food, snacks or comfort food, water or other non-alcoholic beverages
- Bedding: pillow, blanket, etc.
- Electronics and ear plugs, or headphones.
- Extra clothing.
- Medications and medical supplies.
- Oxygen supplies or arrange with your oxygen company to deliver to the designated special needs shelter.
- Toiletry items.
- Flashlight and batteries.
- Diapers, infant and elderly/disabled necessities.
- Time occupier such as books, magazines, games or cards.
- Charging cables for electronics, backup batteries.
- You can reach Duke Energy at 800-769-3766.
- Duke Energy Outage Map
- Report an outage by texting OUT to 57801, online, on their app, or call 800.228.8485.
- You can contact OUC at 407-423-9018.
- OUC Outage Map
- Report an outage by texting OUT to 69682, online, or by calling 407.423.9018.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) mission is helping people before, during, and after disasters. They do this by helping partners reduce their disaster risk, leading the coordination of federal response efforts to stabilize communities after a disaster, and providing support to individuals and communities to build back.
FEMA offers different kinds of financial relief for disaster survivors. They can help both home owners and renters alike find temporary safe housing or provide financial support to help you clean up and make repairs after a storm if you live in a disaster-declared county.
In order to gain access to FEMA financial help, the county you live in must be declared a disaster area.
Our FEMA informational page offers additional information that can help you, including information on how to apply.
For information about deadlines related to any recent local disaster, visit our Disaster Deadlines page.
The list of scams grows and changes each day and disasters always increase the likelihood that you may run across people who try to cheat you.
If you believe you are the victim of a scam, report it immediately to your local police or sheriff’s department or contact the Office of the Attorney General by calling 1-866-9-NO-SCAM (66-7226).
FEMA and Related Scams
- FEMA and SBA representatives never charge applicants for disaster assistance, inspections or help in filling out applications.
- Don’t believe anyone who promises a disaster grant in return for payment.
- Be wary of unexpected phone calls or visits from people claiming to be FEMA housing inspectors or people claiming they work for FEMA.
- FEMA representatives will have your FEMA application number. Ask them to provide you with it to confirm they are with FEMA.
- Always ask to see official photo identification from anyone claiming to be a FEMA housing inspector. Contract inspectors may carry a badge issued by their employer.
- Clothing with a FEMA logo – hats, shirts, jackets – are never a substitute for photo ID.
- Don’t give your banking information to a person claiming to be a FEMA housing inspector. FEMA inspectors are never authorized to collect your personal financial information.
During a storm-related declared state of emergency, state law prohibits excessive increases in the price of essential commodities, such as food, water, hotel rooms, ice, gasoline, lumber, equipment, and related services needed as a direct result of the storm.
Other resources to avoid scams
The State Assistance Information Line (SAIL) provides an additional resource for Floridians to receive up-to-date information regarding ongoing disasters. Residents and visitors can call this toll-free hotline at 1-800-342-3557
Immediately after a declared disaster, FEMA sets up local Disaster Recovery Centers. Visit their website to watch an informational video about how a FEMA Recovery center works and how they can help you.