JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Low-income families, including the elderly and those families with disabilities or children under 18 who suffered damage to their home from Hurricane Irma in 2017, are eligible to apply for funds to rebuild their homes from Rebuild Florida, but the deadline to register for assistance is March 29.
Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Director Ken Lawson said if you don’t register by the deadline, you’ll miss your chance for assistance.
“Any Floridian that suffered damage from Hurricane Irma is eligible to register. Then, once they register, explain who they are, type of damage, then we’ll review it and determine if they can apply," Lawson said. "And if they apply, and (we) determine that we can be helpful, we’ll work with them to either rebuild or repair their home.“
Some people like Claudette Thayer are still dealing with the damage caused by Hurricane Irma 18 months ago. Her Northside home was so badly damaged that she is still not able to return to her house and the stress has taken a toll on her life.
"As I said before, I wouldn't wish this on anyone. But it's no one's fault because it was a hurricane, and we can't control that," Thayer said.
While some progress has been made on Thayer’s home, repairs have mostly been at a standstill and she isn’t the only one. She is one of more than 13,000 people across the state registered with Rebuild Florida. The group is a partnership between the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It is part of a $1.4 billion grant from the federal government.
Rebuild Florida and its leaders are encouraging everyone impacted by Irma to get registered for help by Friday. The process begins from there:
- Eligible homeowners will be invited to complete the application.
- The most vulnerable will be given priority-this includes families who are elderly, disabled, have children under the age of 18, among others.
- After meetings are set up, Rebuild Florida will go to those homes for inspection.
- It will then work with contractors based on the homeowner's needs
Thayer is waiting for answers on her house. While she has no time frame on when it will be livable again, she remains hopeful and uneasy at the same time about hurricane season starting in just a couple of months.
"I just wanted some time at home before the hurricane season comes again. It doesn’t look like I'm going to make it for the second year. But I am hopeful that one day I will be able to have some time in this home peacefully," Thayer said.
Documentation is not needed for registration which can take roughly 15 to 30 minutes. Homeowners can visit RebuildFlorida.gov, call (844) 833-1010 or visit one of the nine Rebuild Florida Centers across the state to register.