We all hope a hurricane never hits our community. That’s why it’s wise to be prepared.

As Floridians, we hope for the best and prepare for the worst during hurricane season. We’ve seen weather conditions change rapidly, often with little preparation time. But, no matter the situation or where you live, you can rest assured that your local United Way will be there to assist our community every step of the way.  

United Way Suncoast provides leadership that improves lives and creates lasting community change by mobilizing the caring people of our communities to give, advocate and volunteer. In times of crisis or disaster, this mission is even more critical.  During a disaster, United Way Suncoast works diligently to organize resourcesconnect those in need with agencies that can help, coordinate volunteer efforts, bridge communication and leverage relationships to ensure our neighbors have the support they need to recover. 

Our Community Resources for Disaster Guide will help you prepare for any disaster. Information is broken down by category, with pertinent disaster-specific information. These resources provide best practices for disasters. Knowledge is power, and overpreparation is better than underpreparation. 

Before, during, and after disasters, our 211 HELPLINE is our community’s go-to for information and resources. 

Ways to Help

United Way Suncoast General Donation – provides support in our community where it is needed most. 

United Way Suncoast Disaster Recovery Fund – Launches during times of disaster and supports disaster relief efforts areas across our five-county footprint.


We encourage you toregister as a volunteer and visit theUWS volunteer websiteto join community volunteer efforts. Follow us on social media for alerts. 

Get Prepared

Make a Plan. Build a Kit. Stay Informed.

Make a plan. As you make your disaster plan, consider all types of disasters and your family’s needs. Begin by identifying how you and your family will contact each other and where you will go if you need to evacuate. Use this Mitigation Planning Communications Checklist.

Build a kit. Use this Mitigation Planning an Emergency Kit Checklist to put together an emergency essentials kit, including: 

  • Food that will not spoil and requires no cooking 
  • Enough water for seven (7) days (one gallon per person per day) 
  • First-aid kit and medications 
  • Emergency tools, such as a battery-powered radio, cell phone charger, flashlight and batteries 
  • Personal items, including toilet paper and plastic garbage bags 
  • Change of clothing for each person 

Stay Informed. Collect and share info. Print, fill out, and include this list of important numbers and family contacts in your disaster kit. Make a copy for everyone in your family.

Protect your Important Documents

Have photocopies of important documents (birth certificates, licenses, insurance declaration pages, wills, deeds, passports, driver’s licenses, medical information, passwords, emergency phone numbers to report utility or other issues, etc.) and keep them in afireproof/waterproof container or safe. Store this container in a high cabinet or closet shelf, attic, or second-floor room. Also, consider putting items in a dishwasher since it’s watertight. 

Prepare your Home and Business

TheHouse & Mobile Home Mitigation Planning ChecklistandBusiness Mitigation Planning Checklistoffer ways to prepare before and after a storm or other natural disaster.  

Flood Insurance

A flood insurance policy may be added for an average cost of $700/year (depending on residential/business, zone and risk).  A policy owner can file a flood claim any time after flood damage occurs (regardless of whether it is hurricane-related), and claims are not dependent on disaster declarations. 

Conversely, Federal Disaster Assistance is not insurance and is not guaranteed. The President of the United States must declare a region a Federal Disaster Area before such assistance can be made available. Not all disasters are declared a Federal Disaster Area – and community members should not rely on getting this assistance if a disaster strikes. 

Evacuation Assistance

If you live in a mobile home, recreational vehicle or a probable evacuation zone, prepare your evacuation supplies as soon as possible. Since every disaster is different, there may not always be a lot of notice regarding evacuation. That’s why preparing your home’s disaster and evacuation kits, as described above, is essential. This Mitigation Planning for Evacuation Checklistcan help.  



Get Help

FEMA Assistance

  • Across our five counties, only Pinellas has been declared a federal disaster area. To apply for assistance, please visit FEMA.gov. If you live in one of our other counties (DeSoto, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota) and sustained storm damage, please visit the FEMA state and local resources page for more information. 

Flood Claims

If your home or business sustained damage from Hurricane Idalia due to flooding:

County Resources

Even if your county has not been declared a federal disaster area, you may be eligible for county-level assistance. Please visit your county’s disaster resource page for more information.

  • DeSoto
  • Hillsborough
  • Manatee
  • Pinellas
  • Sarasota

Unemployment Assistance

In the wake of Hurricane Ian, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity announced the  temporary waiver of the requirements for work search reporting, requiring a waiting week before benefits can be paid, and the requirement to register with Employ Florida to get critical unemployment benefits to those impacted by the storm.

Additionally, Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) is available to Florida businesses and residents in the following counties: Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Flagler, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Orange, Osceola, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, and Volusia counties. Individuals must apply for traditional unemployment first and should indicate that they have been impacted by the disaster. DUA is available for weeks of unemployment starting September 25th and can continue through April 1, 2023, as long as their employment is still impacted by the disaster. The deadline to file a claim for DUA benefits is December 30, 2022. DUA is available to individuals who are ineligible for state or federal unemployment benefits if they meet one of the following criteria:

  • Is unemployed as a direct result of the major disaster.
  • Was scheduled to start employment but was unable to as a direct result of the major disaster.
  • Is unable to reach their job or self-employment location because the individual has to travel through an affected area and is prevented from doing so as a direct result of the major disaster.
  • Has become the primary breadwinner because the head of the household died as a direct result of the major disaster, or
  • Is unable to work because of an injury that was a direct result of the major disaster.

Click here for information about how to identify and report fraudulent unemployment claims.

Free Disaster Cleanup

Blue Roof Program

Homeowners who suffered damage to their roofs from Hurricane Ian may now be eligible for Operation Blue Roof, a federal program that provides fiber-reinforced sheeting to cover roofs until arrangements can be made for permanent repairs. It protects property, reduces temporary housing costs and allows residents to remain in their homes while recovering from the storm.

This is a priority mission managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and is free to homeowners.

Residents are encouraged to sign up and check the status of their applications through the online portal available at BlueRoof.us. The online process takes 5 minutes or less to complete. You can also call 888-766-3258 to speak to a live operator and apply, but you should expect the process to take up to 20 minutes. Hours of operation for the phone line are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

To qualify for the Blue Roof program:

  • The home must be the primary residence of the person or household requesting the emergency roof covering; AND
  • The residence has NO more than 50 percent of the roof framing damaged. The framing must support the plastic sheeting as a temporary repair, and be able to provide safe shelter once contractors install the tarp; AND
  • The resident certifies that he or she is the owner of the residence requested to be covered OR is a renter that has obtained legal permission to continue occupying the residence until more permanent repairs are made; AND
  • The resident certifies that they will shelter in the residence that they have requested to be covered; AND
  • The roof must be standard roof shingles, or a similar material that will allow contractors to nail the tarp in place. Contractors will consider repairs to metal roofs and mobile homes on a case-by-case basis and will install the cover if possible. Contractors cannot cover roofs made of materials such as slate, asbestos or clay tile, or other material which would be exceptionally difficult to repair, or would likely be damaged during tarp installation.

Small Business

Business damaged by Hurricane Idalia in DeSoto, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas, and Sarasota may be eligible for assistance. 


Airbnb has launched a special website to help Hurricane Ian Relocation efforts for impacted residents at Airbnb.com/hurricaneianflorida. The page features open (vacant and available for rent) properties that are available to be booked outside of the FEMA Disaster zones. As communities become fully restored with water and electricity, Airbnb will add more open properties.

Disaster Assistance Individuals
• Call 311 for information on local, state, and federal resources.

$0 Teladoc visits available to anyone impacted by Hurricane Ian

Florida Blue is working with Teladoc to offer no-cost, 24/7 telehealth visits for anyone impacted by the hurricane – even if they’re not a Florida Blue member.
Clinicians can help with non-emergency conditions such as allergies, cold, flu and sinus problems. They also can prescribe some medications that are not controlled substances.

Call the Teladoc hotline at 855-225-5032 for assistance.

The service is only for non-emergency situations. If you have a true emergency, please call 911.

Toll-free 24/7 bilingual emotional support helpline for all Floridians

The stress and anxiety of a hurricane can sometimes be overwhelming. Florida Blue teamed with New Directions Behavioral Health to offer a toll-free 24/7 bilingual emotional support helpline at 833-848-1764 for anyone in Florida experiencing feelings of stress, anxiety, trauma, and grief and in need of immediate emotional support.

Callers may also receive referrals to other sources of mental health support and community resources to help them with emergency services.

For Our Nonprofit Partners

Funding for Disaster Relief and Recovery

Providing grant dollars is part of our comprehensive strategy of response. While there is no active formal application, please let us know about needs you are seeing on the ground, especially those that are being unmet or overlooked, by contacting communityinvestments@uwsuncoast.org. If you or your clients are experiencing a need related to resource navigation, please visit https://unitedwaysuncoast.org/eviction-mitigation to connect with one of our partners.

Volunteer Projects

If your organization needs volunteer support after the storm’s impact, we encourage you to post your volunteer needs on the UWS Volunteer Portal. Click here to see if your organization is already registered, or click here to register. You can contact projects@uwsuncoast.org for assistance.

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