As a member of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA) family, we strongly encourage you and your business to stay informed and get a plan during the state’s Hurricane season (June 1 – November 30). The FRLA and VISIT FLORIDA actively participate and assist the State Emergency Response Team during emergency events as a member of ESF 18. The purpose of Emergency Support Function (ESF) 18 is to coordinate local, state and federal agency actions that will provide immediate and short-term assistance for the needs of business, industry and economic stabilization. For weather alert updates, visitors and residents may stay informed via the weather advisory located on the VISIT FLORIDA homepage. More resources and information are available below. If you have further questions or need additional assistance, contact us at help@FRLA.org
General Hurricane Resources
Emergency Lodging Assistance (ELA)
In response to hurricanes, FEMA activates the Emergency Lodging Assistance program. All lodging operators are encouraged to sign-up here. The ELA provides lodging reimbursement for pre-qualified individuals from designated disaster areas. The Federal Emergency Management Agency created the ELA program to provide temporary shelter as a result of a Federal disaster declaration. As administrator for this FEMA-funded preparedness initiative, CLC provides rules-based payments for all qualified applicants at participating hotels. Lodging properties can review frequently asked questions here, call 1-866-545-9865 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance. Individuals or families searching for lodging may contact FEMA at 1-800-621-3362.
USDA Food Safety Tips for Areas Affected by Hurricanes
Click here for a list of recommendations to reduce food waste and the risk of foodborne illness during severe weather events. In the wake of a Hurricane, there may likely be power outages and flooding. Both pose a risk to the integrity of food and water. Food safety requirements should adhere to post-disaster if you are serving food to the public and to your own family.
Be certain refrigerated food has been stored at correct temperatures of 41°F or below. Frozen food should be maintained at 0°F or below. Thawing should be conducted using only correct methods. Food packaging should be intact with no trace of water intrusion or exposure. In addition, if food has been exposed to storm-related water or debris of any type, it should be discarded should not be served. If food is in question remember when in doubt, throw it out. For information about food safety requirements visit the USDA or Florida’s Division of Hotels and Restaurants, to learn guidelines for emergency recovery.
Dislocated Worker Grants
Dislocated Worker Grants are sometimes available to provide temporary employment to Floridians affected by hurricanes and provide disaster relief employment in the form of temporary jobs that support storm response and recovery efforts. Disaster relief employment pertains to projects that provide food, clothing, shelter and other humanitarian assistance for disaster victims and projects that involve demolition, cleaning, repair, renovation and reconstruction of damaged structures and facilities. Individuals who qualify for disaster relief employment are people who are temporarily or permanently laid off as a consequence of the disaster, dislocated workers, and individuals who are long-term unemployed. Find info at your local CareerSource Center.
Need Insurance Help?
FRLA’s Insurance Council is comprised of trusted agency advisors who understand our members’ needs. View the list here.
The Florida Chief Financial Officer’s Division of Consumer Services offers free assistance to insurance consumers in the aftermath of hurricanes by offering the insurance Consumer Helpline 1-877-693-5236. You can speak directly with individuals who can help you review your policies to understand your coverage, help you file claims for damage and offer assistance in the event that you are having trouble communicating with your insurance company. Verify an insurance agent’s or adjuster’s license here.
Get A Plan
The FloridaDisaster.Biz Business Disaster Toolkit provides businesses with valuable information regarding preparedness, response, and recovery issues. Click here to learn how to prepare your business BEFORE disaster strikes, help keep your workplace and employees safe DURING and what businesses should do AFTER to recover and rebuild.
A disaster of any size could have an impact on your business. Taking the steps to build a business disaster plan and encourage your employees to create a family emergency plan can reduce the impact on your business. It is important to consider how a disaster could affect your employees, customers, and workplace. Go to www.FLGetAPlan.com to build your customized business disaster plan and encourage your employees to build a customized family emergency plan.
Hurricane Tax Credit
Every business located in a disaster area may be eligible to receive the hurricane retention tax credit of up to $2,400 for every employee retained after the hurricane, according to The Hurricane Disaster Relief Act of 2017 (H.R. 3823 Section 503).
The Hurricane Retention Tax Credit is meant to compensate businesses for the unintended cost associated with a national disaster. Get a complimentary evaluation of your business to determine your eligibility. For more information, please call Synergi Partners at 843-245-3903 or visit www.synergipartners.com/FRLA.
Hurricane Michael Resources
Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program
Governor Rick Scott has activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to support small businesses impacted by Hurricane Michael. The bridge loan program, managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), will provide short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses that experienced physical or economic damage during Hurricane Michael. The application period opened today and runs through December 7, 2018.
Small business owners with two to 100 employees located in any of Florida’s 35 counties affected by Hurricane Michael can apply for short-term loans up to $50,000. These loans are interest-free for up to one year and are designed to bridge the gap to either federal SBA loans or commercially available loans. To that end, DEO will work with every borrower to ensure that repayment of the loan isn’t an overwhelming burden. To be eligible, a business must have been established prior to October 7, 2018, and demonstrate economic injury or physical damage as a result of Hurricane Michael.
To complete an application by the December 7, 2018, deadline, or for more information on the program, visit www.floridadisasterloan.org. For questions regarding the Emergency Bridge Loan Program, contact the Florida Small Business Development Center Network at 866-737-7232 or email Disaster@FloridaSBDC.org. The phone line will be answered during regular business hours; all voicemails and emails will be responded to within 24 hours.
Open/Closed Reporting & Business Damage Assessment Survey
FloridaDisaster.biz is a partnership between the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and the Florida Division of Emergency Management (DEM). The FloridaDisaster.biz Resource System is used to provide a centralized location for resource requests from voluntary agencies, and to give businesses in the area who want to help an avenue to assist their neighbors. Resources are both requested and offered through the system.
- First, please register the business on FloridaDisaster.biz to utilize the resource management system.
- If your business was impacted by a recent hurricane, we encourage you to fill out the Business Damage Assessment Form. The information provided in this survey will be shared among various state and local agencies to expedite the implementation of appropriate disaster relief programs for businesses.
- Use the “Status Update” tool to identify your open/closed status. The ESF18 State Emergency Response Team is particularly interested in your store’s open/closed status if a store is partially open or open with reduced resources, what challenges are they facing, if a store is closed, what obstacles do they have to reopen and what is the anticipated timeline of reopening. Businesses may also report this information via email to email@example.com and via the Private Sector Hotline is 850-410-1403.
Disaster Recovery Centers
A Disaster Recovery Center is a readily accessible facility or mobile office where survivors may go for information about our programs or other disaster assistance programs, and to ask questions related to your case. Representatives from the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), volunteer groups and other agencies are at the centers to answer questions about disaster assistance and low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters, and businesses. They can also help survivors apply for federal disaster assistance.
The Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) Locator allows individuals to search for DRCs nearest to their location.
FEMA’s Individual Assistance
Individual Assistance from FEMA contains any or all of 5 different programs: Individuals & Households Program (IHP), Crisis Counseling, Disaster Unemployment Insurance, Disaster Case Management, and Disaster Legal Services. The program that deals with money to survivors is IHP and provides funding for survivors based on their needs (uninsured losses), and factoring in other types of available assistance.
Visit DisasterAssistance.gov to apply for assistance online. If you experience difficulty applying online, you may also call (800) 621-3362 / TTY (800) 462-7585 to apply during standard hours of operation (7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern Time), 7 days a week. You can also check your application status at DisasterAssistance.gov. Survivors have 60-days from the date of a declaration for Individual Assistance to apply for assistance.
Programs for Florida counties impacted by Hurricane Michael have not been designated at this time. Apply online in advance and stay tuned for updates.
Protect Your Business From Price Gouging
Whenever Florida is under a declared state of emergency, Florida’s price gouging law applies. State law prohibits extreme increases in the price of essential commodities, such as food, ice, gas, hotels, lumber, and water during this declared state of emergency. Specifically, F.S. 501.160 states that during a state of emergency, it is unlawful to sell, lease, offer to sell, or offer for lease essential commodities, dwelling units, or self-storage facilities for an amount that grossly exceeds the average price for that commodity during the 30 days before the declaration of the state of emergency, unless the seller can justify the price by showing increases in its prices or market trends. For more information on price gouging, please click here. Report an instance of price gouging or contractor fraud during a declared state of emergency to the Attorney General’s Office online at www.myfloridalegal.com or by calling toll-free at 1-866-9-NO-SCAM. Additionally, you may report unlicensed contractors to the Department of Business & Professional Regulation online at www.myfloridalicense.com or by calling 1-866-532-1440.
Federal Reemployment Assistance
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) has been extended to December 7, 2018.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is available to Florida businesses and residents whose employment or self-employment was lost or interrupted as a result of Hurricane Michael. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) is currently accepting applications for DUA from residents and businesses in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Liberty, Taylor, Wakulla and Washington counties.
Workers can apply if they worked, were self-employed or were scheduled to begin work or self-employment and are not able to work or perform services because of physical damage or destruction to the place of employment as a direct result of the disaster.
Individuals affected in these designated-disaster areas must file DUA applications by December 7, 2018. DUA is available from 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.
Florida Department of Revenue
The Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) has created a dedicated webpage to help businesses impacted by Hurricane Michael. FloridaRevenue.com/HurricaneMichael is for all who work with the Department of Revenue and contains information about taxes as well as child support. Additionally, DOR has waived statutory requirements during the Hurricane Michael emergency to ensure fair, consistent, and adequate tax administration. Filing deadlines and due dates have been extended for those in the following counties: Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Hamilton, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor, Wakulla, and Washington. Read the official announcement here.
Disaster Area Re-Entry Requirements
Following a major storm, one of the primary goals will be the rapid restoration of local businesses that provide vital goods and services. Local elected officials and Law Enforcement Officers will work together to determine when an area is safe enough for individuals to return. Individuals and businesses seeking to provide essential commodities and services to impacted areas will be allowed re-entry by possessing and presenting specific documentation to local officials:
1. A valid government-issued ID, such as a Driver’s License or passport;
2. Proof of Employment, such as Employer credentials or a letter on employer letterhead; and
3. A Demonstrated Need to enter the area, such as a work order, inventory list, or employer authorization. Local officials know their communities and are well suited to facilitate a safe and timely re-entry process.
If you have any questions, please contact the State Emergency Response Team’s Emergency Support Function 18 via the Private Sector Hotline at (850) 410-1403 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
VISIT FLORIDA Webcam Submission
Are you open for business? Share your live webcam stream with VISIT FLORIDA, and they may include it on their Florida Now page, which offers real-time information about areas throughout the state. This real-time data promotes the diversity of opportunities in the Sunshine State and can help drive traffic to your area and your business. Submit your cam here.
How to Help
When hurricanes come to bear upon our beautiful state, Florida’s hospitality industry generously opens its doors and its hearts to their communities. Lodging properties welcomed evacuees, utility workers and first responders, restaurants fed thousands in shelters, businesses donated money and supplies and employees volunteered their time to help fellow neighbors in need. FRLA encourages those who wish to offer their generous help during this difficult time to consider supporting the Florida Disaster Fund.
Florida Disaster Fund
Governor Rick Scott has activated the Florida Disaster Fund to support individuals who are impacted by Hurricane Michael. The Florida Disaster Fund helps provide financial support to Florida’s communities in times of disaster.
To make a contribution, please visit www.FloridaDisasterFund.org or text SUNSHINE to 20222 to make a one-time donation of $10.
To donate by check, please make check out to the Volunteer Florida Foundation, include “Florida Disaster Fund” in the memo line and mail to Volunteer Florida Foundation Attn: Florida Disaster Fund, 3800 Esplanade Way – Suite 180, Tallahassee, FL 32311.
If you have additional questions about the Florida Disaster Fund, please contact email@example.com or call (850)-414-7400.
For Visitors & Residents
Stay informed: Visit www.floridadisaster.org to find information on shelters, road closures, and evacuation routes. For live updates on the latest weather patterns, follow the State Emergency Response Team @FLSERT on Twitter and Facebook. VISIT FLORIDA is also providing weather updates and official source links for visitors to keep up with the latest changes here.
Obtaining financial assistance for lodging: Hurricane evacuees in need of financial assistance for lodging can contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) online or by phone at 800-621-3362.
Finding a hotel that accepts FEMA assistance:If you already have FEMA lodging assistance and you are looking for available lodging under FEMA’s Transitional Shelter Assistance Program, a list of participating hotels is available on the www.disasterassistance.gov website. Call the hotel to determine current availability, and be sure to inform the hotel when you call that you are participating in FEMA’s emergency lodging program.
Finding a hotel generally: Visitors and residents can make general lodging relocation plans here. Reserve by brand here. First responders traveling to the impacted areas can also use this information to find available lodging. Search for pet-friendly lodging BringFido.com or PetFriendlyTravel.com.
Shelter Information: If lodging accommodations are simply not an available option for you, you can find a list of open evacuation shelters updated in real time here. Some local shelters require advanced notice for pets. Review the list of American Kennel Club’s pet-friendly shelters in the area.
- Download Florida Storms App (Google Play / iTunes)
- Travel and roadways update FL511.com or call 511
- Use GasBuddy to find fuel.
- Find a map of statewide power outages here. FPL customers can use the FPL Power Tracker map, and report or track outage information at www.FPL.com/outage or call 1-800-4-OUTAGE (1-800-468-8243).
- Access Comcast’s free Xfinity WiFi and free Spectrum WiFi Hotspots.
- Find boil water notices here.