July 5, 2012
Communications Director
(850) 413-0771
~ Florida residents can also receive assistance through National Disaster Distress Helpline ~

TALLAHASSEE, FLA.Employees from the Department of Children and Families will be on hand at three Disaster Recovery Centers that will open this week to help individuals and families in counties that were flooded or damaged from Tropical Storm Debby.

Tuesday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved a request for a Major Disaster Declaration for Individual Assistance in 11 Florida counties - Bradford, Baker, Columbia, Pasco, Wakulla, Clay, Franklin, Hernando, Highlands, Pinellas and Suwannee. This request was submitted by Gov. Rick Scott on July 1 in order to provide better services to those affected by the storm.

Disaster Recovery Centers have been opened in three counties - Baker, Suwannee and Wakulla - with others opening soon. The centers provide assistance with disaster unemployment, financial assistance through FEMA, elder affairs issues, housing and rental assistance, aid for businesses and referrals for other needs. DCF's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Program Office is working with providers to staff these centers with crisis counselors, and our Economic Self-Sufficiency staff will be on site to handle replacement food assistance for clients who lost food due to power outages or flooding. The addresses for the centers in three Florida counties are below.

"We know many individuals and families in these counties are still struggling with rising floodwaters and the loss of food, household goods and even their entire homes," said Secretary David Wilkins. "Our agency will continue to work with those in need because of this disaster in any way possible."

Families and individuals who are current food assistance clients may receive replacement of benefits for the value of the food lost. To report food loss or to request replacement benefits, customers can obtain the Food Assistance Replacement Authorization Form at www.dcf.state.fl.us/DCFForms/Search/OpenDCFForm.aspx?FormId=597. Customers can submit the form via fax at 866-886-4342 or by mailing it to: ACCESS Central Mail Center, PO Box 1, Wildwood, FL 34785.

Disasters are unexpected and often cause stress and worry to residents in their paths. The national Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 provides immediate crisis counseling to residents of Florida needing support in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Debby. The Disaster Distress Helpline operates 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week for people experiencing distress after any disaster.

Individuals can also text “TalkWithUs” to 66746 to be immediately connected with a trained and caring professional from their closest crisis counseling center. The toll-free number is multilingual and Spanish-speakers can text “Hablanos” to 66746. Services are also accessible to those who are deaf and hearing impaired (via texting and TTY at 1-800-846-8517). For more information, visit the Disaster Distress Helpline online: http://disasterdistress.samhsa.gov.

If you would like to provide help to those affected by the storm, please call the Florida Volunteer and Donation Hotline at 1-800-354-3571 or go to www.volunteerfloridadisaster.org.

  • Wakulla County DRC - Wakulla Agricultural Center, 84 Cedar Ave., Crawfordville, FL 32327
  • Suwannee County DRC - Suwannee Coliseum, 1302 11th Street, Live Oak, FL 32064
  • Baker County DRC - Christian Fellowship Temple, 337 North 7th Street, Macclenny, FL 32063