TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Dane Eagle, the Secretary of the Department of Economic Opportunity, joined other state agency leaders to talk about preparation for and recovery from the impacts of Hurricane Ian.

“Our main duty at DEO is to coordinate with the private sector before, during, and after the storm, to focus on economic recovery,” Eagle said, adding that the DEO had been positioned at the state Emergency Operation Center to coordinate supply needs between big box stores and the public as preparation for Hurricane Ian’s arrival.

“We have activated Disaster Unemployment Assistance, and thanks to the governor’s leadership, we have also cut red tape, allowing Floridians access to disaster unemployment assistance,” Eagle said. The work search requirements for unemployment assistance have been temporarily waived, and federal and state agents are working together to provide relief and funds for those seeking assistance.

Eagle said the DUA is “designed to fill the gaps” where general Reemployment Assistance is unavailable. Disaster relief is one such example. According to the DEO secretary, those seeking DUA must first apply for, and be rejected by, RA funds. Afterward, the “denial is your pass to then apply for DUA.”

The secretary said DUE would be available for 26 to 27 weeks after the start of the storm, made to help people “get back on their feet and bridge that gap so they can find gainful employment.” September 25, 2022 until April 1, 2023 are the dates listed by the DEO for unemployment filing.

He said state officials were asking businesses to also fill out a disaster assessment survey, which would let Florida learn more about what needs still have yet to be met, and then address them.

“The data that you can provide about how your business has been affected, whether that’s structural damage and or economic damage, we want to know,” Eagle said.

To fill out the disaster assessment survey, businesses can go to FloridaDisaster.biz. Eagle said the survey only takes a few minutes and will let the state “tap into additional resources” for providing assistance.

For those now unemployed due to Hurricane Ian’s impacts, unemployment claims can be filed online. Eligible residents include those:

  • 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
  • Is unable to work because of an injury that was a direct result of the major disaster

According to the DEO, go to the Florida Jobs website, then select “File a Claim”, then visit a local CareerSource Career Center, or call 1-800-385-3920.

DEO has customer service representatives available Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time to assist claimants. For DUA claims information, call 1-833-FL-APPLY (1-833-352-7759) to speak with a representative. Floridians have until Dec. 30 to file a claim for DUA benefits.