Finding Information During a Disaster

State Assistance Information Line (SAIL)

  • The State Assistance Information Line is a toll-free hotline activated at the time of an emergency to provide an additional resource for those in Florida to receive accurate and up-to-date information regarding an emergency or disaster situation impacting the State of Florida.
  • The SAIL hotline is: 1-800-342-3557.
  • The SAIL hotline is only operational during an emergency event; at all other times, a recorded message with general information about the hotline is available.
  • During an emergency, the SAIL hotline is operational daily at set hours depending on the severity of the event. Please stay tuned to your local officials and/or log on to the www.floridadisaster.org during an emergency event for exact hours of operation.
  • Those persons in Florida may access information from SAIL hotline operators on how to prepare before/during/after a hurricane, road closures and alternate routes, available/open shelters in host or impacted counties, shelters designed for special needs patients, hotels and motels that accept pets, boaters instructions for moving watercraft to safer ground, and re-entry information once it is safe to return to the affected area.

Donating During a Disaster

Cash
Cash is the most flexible and effective form of donation. To donate to the Florida Disaster Fund, Florida’s private fund established to assist communities throughout disaster response and recovery, visit our website or text “DISASTER” ($10) or “DISASTER25” ($25) to 20222.

Confirm
If not donating cash, confirm that there is a legitimate need before collecting items and material donations. We also encourage volunteers to affiliate with established organizations and ensure that they are needed before visiting impacted areas.

Connect
Volunteers are a critical part of a well-coordinated disaster recovery effort. To volunteer, visit our website and register on the volunteer database. Please be patient and do not self-deploy – organizations will contact qualified volunteers as soon as possible.

Food
Local food banks will provide goods to disaster survivors, and receive additional resources from other food banks. This means that their inventory is being depleted, in terms of serving their own clientele. We encourage individuals to give to those organizations. A food bank directory is available at www.feedingflorida.org to confirm the need for food donations.

Clothing

The Salvation Army and Goodwill are ideal, established organizations for donating clothing. Both organizations have the capacity to sort and process these donations, which is critical infrastructure other organizations do not have (especially in areas affected by disasters). These organizations typically provide vouchers for individuals to select items they need. They are also equipped to provide and track this voucher procedure. Even donating items in another area of the state can help, as these organizations will likely need to replenish items in areas affected by disasters.

For more information: https://www.fema.gov/assistance/volunteer-donate

Serving During a Disaster

When disaster strikes, Floridians immediately search for ways to serve affected communities. You can support disaster relief efforts by connecting to available volunteer opportunities through Volunteer Connect.

STEP 1: CLICK HERE FOR POSSIBLE DISASTER-RELATED OPPORTUNITIES.
Complete the Location and Distance fields for possible opportunities in your area.

STEP 2: PLEASE DO NOT SELF-DEPLOY
For your safety and to support trained emergency response teams, please confirm with a disaster relief organization the need for volunteers and approval for your participation.

STEP 3: REMEMBER TO DO YOUR HOMEWORK*.
Be sure to have a clear understanding of volunteer assignments, safety measures and points of contact.

WHAT YOU ALSO NEED TO KNOW:

    • Immediate assistance for affected areas is provided by first responders, government groups, disaster relief organizations and affiliated volunteers who have already trained to serve.
    • Each organization that mobilizes volunteers during disasters has its own process for accepting and managing unaffiliated volunteers.
    • As our partner organizations assess needs and evaluate resources, they will begin to organize volunteer opportunities for unaffiliated (individuals who are not already connected to an organization) volunteers.
    • Remember that recovery work continues for weeks, months and even years after disaster events occur. Organizations may have a significant need for volunteers in the weeks and months ahead.

*Volunteer Florida does not vet volunteer opportunities, but serves as a connector between organizations with volunteer needs and individuals who wish to serve. Please see Volunteer Connect Terms and Conditions here.

Florida Disaster Fund Grant Information

The Volunteer Florida Foundation administers the Florida Disaster Fund, Florida’s private fund established to assist Florida’s communities as they respond to and recover during times of emergency or disaster. 

Activation

The fund is activated based on the declaration of a disaster by the Governor and approval by the Foundation Board of Directors (or its Executive Committee) to begin a fundraising effort.

Ways to solicit donations

  • Go to volunteerflorida.org and click “Donate”
  • Text “Disaster” ($10) or “Disaster 25” ($25) to 20222
  • Mail a check made out to Volunteer Florida Foundation. Place “Florida Disaster Fund” in the memo line.  Address:  1545 Raymond Diehl Rd., Ste 250, Tallahassee, FL  32308
  • Please note that donors can indicate a specific storm or event on the check or attached communication. To allow for maximum flexibility and ease of distributing funds appropriately, it is recommended for donations to the Florida Disaster Fund be unrestricted.

Use of Funds

During and after the collection process and as immediate and longer-term needs are identified, the Executive Director of the Foundation, in discussion with staff and executive committee of the board of directors, will evaluate how to distribute the funds to non-profit entities between the two types of available grants.

  • Immediate needs response grants
    • These grants will be given to Florida VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters) members or Memorandum of Understanding partners (known entities that consistently respond before, during and after events to assist all Floridians affected by events) with Volunteer Florida. These are entities that are known to Volunteer Florida and have played a part in the immediate response to the event.
  • Long term recovery grants
    • These grants are awarded to non-profits, faith-based organizations and local governmental entities through a comprehensive competitive process with specific instructions regarding purpose, i.e. must meet unmet needs of areas affected by a specific event.
    • During this process, Volunteer Florida will hold technical assistance calls, budget assistance calls and record webinars and posts FAQs to ensure success for the applicants.
    • These applications are reviewed and scored by staff and a selection of Commissioners and Foundation board members. A slate of awardees is recommended based on the scoring and the amount of funds available in the round of funding.  The awards are approved by the full Foundation Board of Directors.
    • These grants can be contracted for 1 year and will be cost reimbursement grants.

Communication of Funding Availability

  • Volunteer Florida will communicate these rounds of available funding via web site and direct mail.
  • Interested parties should sign up for our newsletter here or continue to check our web site here.

 

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