Disaster Preparation and Recovery

Last Modified: 12/14/2023

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.

Contact us when you need legal help with your disaster preparations or recovery.

If you follow us on Facebook, our advocates post resource availability following disasters. Follow us to stay informed!

Go to our Disaster webpage to read detailed information about your legal rights during and after a natural disaster.

Disaster Preparation

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.

Click here to Sign-up for statewide emergency alerts and public safety announcements.

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.

Do you know your evacuation zone? Find it here.

During a Disaster

Below are links to our counties’ emergency management departments.



You can find information about public school closures across Florida on the Florida Department of Education website

Links to school districts in CLS’s service areas are below.

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. 

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.

Hurricane Recovery

Duke Energy



  • Call 1-800-4-OUTAGE (1.800.468.8243) immediately to report a dangerous condition such as a downed power line. 
  • FPL Outage Map 
  • Report an outage online. 

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.

Visit FEMA’s website for information.

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 Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) is responsible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) formally known as food stamps in Florida. There are several benefits DCF may offer when Floridians face disaster, these include early release of benefits, replacement of benefits, allowing the purchase of hot food, and Disaster SNAP (D-SNAP) for those who normally do not receive SNAP benefits.  

For additional information, see our Food Assistance After Disaster page. 

Check the DCF website for the latest information! 

For information about deadlines related to recent local disasters, visit our Disaster Deadlines page. 

According to Florida Statute Section 193.155, if a homeowner’s home is destroyed by a disaster and it is rebuilt to the statute’s specifications, the tax liability for their home will be the same as if the original home was not destroyed. According to Subsection 193.155(4)(b), this specifically applies to changes, additions, or improvements done within 3 years after the January 1st following the damage or destruction.  

For example, if you incur damage in August 2022, you will have 3 years after the upcoming January 1st, 2023 to complete the repairs.  

The repairs must be started prior to the 3-year deadline after the disaster in order to qualify for the calamity property tax rule. If this is not met, the calamity property tax rule does not apply and the homeowner’s property tax may change. Delays caused by working with Rebuild Florida or any other government agency are not excusable reasons for failing to meet the 3-year deadline. 

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. 

Who is Knocking at your Door?

Price-Gouging Hotline 

The Florida Attorney General’s price-gouging hotline is open. 

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. 

If you experience any extreme price increases for items listed above, you can report it by calling (866) 9NO-SCAM or visiting the Attorney General’s webpage for details.

Contractor Scams 

​​​​​​​The Importance of Hiring Licensed Contractors 

Unlicensed “contractors” 

How can I find and work with contractors to rebuild after a disaster? 

Other resources to avoid scams 

Avoiding Fraud 

How do I avoid scams and fraud after a disaster? 

The State Emergency Response Team website contains information, links, and resources that are updated daily during storm recovery.

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

Governor’s webpage Provides up to date information regarding Executive Orders and press releases from the Governor’s office. 

​​​​​The American Red Cross of Central Florida and the US Virgin Islands Provides shelter, food, supplies, and other support after a disaster. 

Crisis Cleanupoffers FREE assistance with fallen trees, drywall, flooring and appliance removal, tarping roofs, and mold mitigation. Services are provided by volunteers and are not guaranteed. The earlier survivors sign up the more likely they are to get assistance. To request assistance, visit the website to find the phone number for the disaster you have been impacted by – there is a new number for each disaster

Next Steps

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If you still need assistance, give us a call at (800) 405-1417

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