Hurricane Ian, a category 4 hurricane, tore through Florida last week, with the Associated Press reporting Monday morning at least 61 confirmed deaths (so far), more than 1,600 saved by rescue efforts and 600,000 homes and businesses still without electricity.
Last week, CoreLogic predicted Hurricane Ian to be one of the costliest storms in U.S. history, with over 7 million homes at risk of storm surge and flash flood damages, and a projected reconstruction cost value of over $1 trillion. A Friday update from CoreLogic stated that wind losses for residential and commercial properties in Florida were expected to be between $22 and $32 billion, and insured storm surge losses were expected to be an additional $6 to $15 billion.
In addition to hefty damages, the New York Times reported in a recent article that less than half of residents within the floodplains have flood insurance. The article reports that only 47.3% of homes in the floodplains have flood insurance, and that only 18.5% of homes in counties that were told to evacuate have coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program.
This all makes for a simple equation: costly damages plus many residents without protection equals disaster relief being more imperative than ever. Many REALTOR® charity organizations began mobilizing early last week, ready to be at the frontline helping REALTORS® and their communities.
The National Association of REALTORS® founded their REALTORS® Relief Foundation back in 2001 following the Sept. 11 attacks with the intention of supporting REALTORS® and their communities affected by natural disasters. The foundation, which had recently given $1 million in grants to two different natural disasters, mobilized their grant services for those needing assistance in Florida.
Similarly, Florida REALTORS® Disaster Relief Fund, founded in 1992 to support Florida REALTORS® in need due to natural disasters, activated on Thursday and began accepting applications for their assistance grants. The fund assists REALTORS® and their employees as well as local associations and staff who experienced damage to their primary residences or offices.
Anywhere Real Estate also opened their charity Anywhere Gives’ Disaster Relief Fund to provide relief grants to REALTORS® in Florida. Their grants assist REALTORS® struggling with property damage costs for both employees and those affiliated with an Anywhere franchised or company-owned real estate brokerage office.
Another prominent charity in the industry, KW Cares of Keller Williams (KW), is using their disaster relief grants of up to $5,000 to support KW associates and their immediate families, which includes parents, siblings, spouses and children, who need assistance due to losses following evacuations. Last year during Hurricane Ida they provided over $3.3 million in disaster relief grants.
“We really penetrate deep into the communities that we’re helping. It starts with a Keller Williams person, but then it networks out,” said KW Cares CEO Alexia Rodriguez. “During Hurricane Ida, we literally helped whole communities in terms of touching people. Their contact to us is through a Keller Williams agent or associate, but then we spread out pretty far, which I think is really impactful.”
KW Cares also opened two command centers in Florida last week, where they had 500 generators brought in and ready to be supplied as well as other necessities such as roof tarps, to KW agents or associates and their families. In addition to their disaster relief grants, they have a more in-depth grant that can award up to $30,000 to assist those in need of funds for things such as medical bills, property damages and more.