How to get free help cleaning and repairing your home after Irma

Crisis Cleanup helps coordinate volunteers
Posted at 4:11 PM, Sep 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-19 18:21:07-04

After 11 days, Highlands County is expected to have nearly all residents returned to full power by Tuesday at 11:00 p.m.

For many, now comes the tough process of cleaning up and trying to get their homes inhabitable again.

The Highlands County Sheriff’s Office is now recommending those who are uninsured or underinsured to apply for free assistance repairing and cleaning up their homes through Crisis Cleanup.

Crisis Cleanup was developed by and for field volunteers, team leaders, canvassers, and the people who work one-on-one with survivors whose homes have been affected by flood, tornadoes, earthquakes, wind, fire, or other disasters, according to their website. Crisis Cleanup can "respond to a new disaster the same day, permitting relief organizations to instantly coordinate efforts."

People who are dealing with serious damage from Hurricane Irma are encouraged to call 1-800-451-1954 .A volunteer working the hotline will take a detailed account of the damage or help that you need. They can help coordinate everything from basic cleanup, to mold removal or even tree trimming. 

The applicant is then plotted on a map of people who need assistance and then a volunteer group will pick up the “work order” and help service the family in need.

According to their hotline recording, it can often be several days before you get a call back but you will be entered into the system and volunteers can see you.

People like John Reister say they could really use the help. Reister came home to find his roof blown off. 

‘When it rains, it just pours in here,” he said. “That wall is ruined.”

He is waiting for FEMA to make a final assessment, but in the meantime, needs instant help. He is hoping someone can put a tarp over the hole in his roof. He’s trying to protect himself and his dog.

“I was heartbroken,” Reister said. “I started to cry. It’s hard to talk about.”

While entering a client into Crisis Cleanup does not guarantee that he or she will be served, it guarantees visibility and maximizes the chances for assistance, while helping relief organizations prioritize their limited resources, the organization’s website also says.

“Any help would be a help,” said Larry Fayles, who also saw severe damage to his home.

The hotline for Hurricane Irma relief through Crisis Cleanup closes on September 30, according to the organization’s hotline recording.