Irma and Maria: An essential guide to recovery

In the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the following checklist can help you know what to focus on first as well as later, including information on long-term tax relief and sources of emergency liquidity for U.S. territories.

What to do now

  • Make a list of damages: It can be helpful to draw a floorplan to help recall what was in the space and to detail structural damage.
  • File claims quickly with your insurance company, FEMA, National Flood Insurance Program, or any other organizations helping with disaster recovery.
    • Document all interactions. Because insurance agents can become overwhelmed, take multiple pictures. To the extent possible, make only the repairs needed to prevent further damage, as adjusters often need to see the damage themselves.
  • Save all receipts related to replacement housing, including food costs, additional costs for transportation and storage expenses. You also may be eligible to receive an advance from your insurance company for these costs.
  • Apply for a small business disaster loan if applicable. The U.S. Small Business Administration provides low-interest loans in declared disaster areas, not only to businesses and private non-profit organizations, but to homeowners and renters as well. You can apply online here.
  • Identify sources of emergency liquidity whether through a HELOC or other lines of credit, borrowing from retirement plans, etc.

What to do next

  • Replace lost documents such as car titles, birth certificates and Social Security cards.
  • Taxes: Generally, people who live in federally declared disaster areas may be eligible to delay tax filings and payments without penalty.
  • Repairing/rebuilding your home: As you prepare to make repairs or potentially rebuild, review steps you can take to protect yourself against fraud.

Hurricanes Irma and Maria: Ways to help

Following Irma’s battering of the Caribbean and Florida, Hurricane Maria set a record as the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in 80 years. The economic costs of Irma alone could run as high as $92 billion, an estimate that includes property damage and lost economic output.1 The human costs are even more staggering, and will require the combined and sustained efforts of both public and private sectors.

“Our clients wanted help connecting to ways to rebuild damaged lives and communities in, so we developed a list of organizations focused on recovery,” said Dianne Whitty, Global Head of J.P. Morgan’s Philanthropy Centre. “We recognize some of the efforts will last for years, if not decades.”

“We stand ready to help those who are impacted by flooding, are unable to access drinking water, and have lost electricity, their homes or the ability to connect with loved ones,” said Karen Persichilli Keough, Head of Global Philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase.

Similar to Hurricane Harvey, JPMorgan Chase has donated $1 million to Irma-related relief efforts and will continue to support and serve the greater Southeast U.S. community. JPMorgan Chase has also pledged $500,000 to support communities and individuals affected by Maria, in addition to other funding for recovery efforts following this series of natural disasters.

Organizations focused on relief and recovery2

HURRICANE IRMA

Community Foundation of Southwest Florida
Southwest Florida’s major philanthropic organizations are collaborating to collect and pool donations that will be used to fund local efforts to rebuild and recover from Hurricane Irma.
www.floridacommunity.com

Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund
Managed by the United Way of Northeast Florida, this fund will make grants only to organizations helping individuals impacted by natural disasters in Baker.
www.unitedwaynefl.org/relieffund

The Miami Foundation
The Miami Foundation is focused on resiliency efforts for future disasters and will work with both larger and grassroots efforts to deploy funds.
www.miamifoundation.org

Broward Cares
Broward’s three major philanthropic organizations are collaborating to collect and pool donations that will be used to fund local efforts to rebuild and recover from Hurricane Irma.
www.browardcares.org

Community Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin Counties
Palm Beach’s major philanthropic organizations are collaborating to collect and pool donations that will be used to fund local efforts to rebuild and recover from Hurricane Irma.
www.yourcommunityfoundation.org

International Medical Corps
A first responder for more than three decades, the organization has mobilized staff and supplies to deploy to some of the hardest-hit areas in the Caribbean to provide lifesaving care in the wake of this devastating storm.
www.internationalmedicalcorps.org

UNICEF USA

UNICEF is working with the governments in the Caribbean, including those of the islands worst hit by Hurricane Irma—Anguilla, Barbuda, British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos—to respond to the needs of the children affected by Irma. They will support immediate relief efforts, which include clean water and sanitation, child protection, health, nutrition and education. All donations made for Hurricane Irma relief will go directly to help the nearly 2.4 million children impacted by the storm.
www.unicefusa.org

HURRICANE MARIA

Boys and Girls Club of Puerto Rico
Is distributing food, water and social services in the communities without access to electricity or running water. In addition, it is working to quickly to rebuild damaged clubhouses to expand services across the island.
www.bgcpr.org

All Hands Volunteer
is a volunteer-powered organization working across the Virgin Islands to rebuild the basic “hubs” of the community, including homes, schools, daycare facilities and community centers.
www.hands.org

ConPRmetidos
has organized a fund in partnership with Foundation for Puerto Rico, a 501(c)(3) corporation, which is acting as the fiscal sponsor. The money is going to long-term structural repairs to the most vulnerable communities.
www.conprmetidos.org

One America Appeal
is a joint appeal launched by all five living former American Presidents to encourage fellow citizens to support recovery efforts from hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
www.oneamericaappeal.org

Team Rubicon
unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams. Team Rubicon’s primary mission is to provide disaster relief to those affected by natural disasters. By pairing the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders, medical professionals and technology solutions, Team Rubicon aims to provide the greatest service and impact possible.
www.teamrubiconusa.org

Unidos por Puerto Rico3
is an initiative brought forth by the First Lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Rosselló, in collaboration with the private sector, to provide aid and support to those affected by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.
www.unidosporpuertorico.com/en

Unidos, by the Hispanic Federation4
is a coalition of elected officials in New York and Puerto Rico that joined the Hispanic Federation, a Latino nonprofit, to launch this relief fund for Puerto Ricans affected by Maria. Proceeds will go to community and civic organizations in Puerto Rico.
www.hispanicfederation.org/donate

UNICEF USA
is mobilizing to get immediate, critical support—Emergency Relief Kits—to the children of Puerto Rico. A donation of just $28 will provide a kit containing basic, essential supplies such as water purification tablets, a water bucket with lid, water containers, soap, toothpaste, detergent and sanitary pads. The supplies will help children and their families keep clean and healthy, protecting them from diseases that can occur after the loss of equipment and infrastructure, and the disruption of a safe water supply.
www.unicefusa.org

GlobalGiving
distributes donations to local recovery efforts. Donations to GlobalGiving’s Puerto Rico & Caribbean Hurricane Relief Fund will be divided among its vetted nonprofit partners relative to where the need is greatest. This list of responding organizations and their recovery projects will continue to grow as partners in the affected areas have the capacity to post projects and updates.
www.globalgiving.org/hurricane-maria

Americares
is working with the Department of Health in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to facilitate and supply shipments of antibiotics and medical supplies, and to conduct damage assessments on health facilities.
www.americares.org

The Philanthropy Centre at J.P. Morgan can help connect you with like-minded individuals, foundations and charitable organizations focused on relief efforts for areas affected by hurricanes and other disasters. For more information, we invite you to contact us and a J.P. Morgan representative will be in touch with you.

 

Additional Resources

File claims as quickly as possible

Homeowners’ insurance applies if storm damage is from the top down, such as wind-related damage.
 
  • Find or obtain a copy of your policy and carefully read it to determine such details as what’s covered and deadlines for giving notice of loss to your insurer.
  • Take photos and videos before making repairs.
  • Make a list of damaged or lost items.
  • Keep receipts for any repair expenses and additional living expenses while away from home.
  • Give your insurance company a list of all expenses.
  • Check your policy for deadlines or special requirements.
  • Send in proof of loss and other documents the policy requires to obtain coverage and payments.
  • Request partial or advance payments from your insurance company as needed.
  • Keep notes when you talk with your insurance company, agent or broker, and retain all related letters, emails, and other correspondence.
  • Review checks, payments, letters, emails, and other documents from your insurance company.
  • Follow up with your insurance company about your claim.
 
Flood insurance applies if damage is from the bottom up, such as flooding due to Hurricane Irma.
 
  • Coverage: The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) provides basic coverage of up to $250,000 for building property and up to $100,000 for contents.
    • If you are a policyholder, you also may be eligible to receive up to $5,000 in advance for building and contents damages prior to an adjuster’s inspection with a signed advance payment request agreement.
    • If you have photos and receipts that support out-of-pocket expenses, you may receive an advance payment of up to $10,000.
  • Information for filing claims: See www.fema.gov/nfip-file-your-claim or call 800.427.4661 if you are unable to locate policy information.
 
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance
   
  • Applying for assistance: Visit disasterassistance.gov to research and apply for aid. For more Information on government efforts related to Hurricane Irma, visit USA.gov/hurricane-irma.
  • Information you will need to apply for assistance:
    • Social Security number
    • Temporary and permanent addresses
    • Phone number
    • Insurance information
    • Household income
    • Bank routing and account numbers for direct deposit of disaster-assistance funds

Emergency liquidity

Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC): An existing HELOC can be used for additional liquidity.  Please not that a new line may not be approved if a home is damaged or under repair.
Lines of credit: We can help you open an unsecured line of credit or a line of credit secured by your investments held at J.P. Morgan.
Other emergency resources may include loans from retirement plans (generally limited to the lesser of $50,000 or half of the account balance) or loans against the cash value of life-insurance policies.
 

Resources for replacing important documents

Car title
  • Replace any missing car titles, as insurance companies will require the titles to pay your claim. An application is available online and at any driver’s license office.
  • Provide your driver’s license and pay the required fee.
 
Driver’s license
  • Complete the application and bring it to any driver’s license office. You can find your closest DMV office here.
  • Pay the required fees.
  • Provide required documents to verify your identity, listed here.
 
Social Security card
  • There is no emergency procedure to replace a Social Security card. To replace one, you will need to complete an application (Form SS-5).
  • To do this, you will need another form of identification, such as a driver’s license. The process is explained on the Social Security website at www.ssa.gov. You can also call 800.772.1213 or visit a local Social Security office.
 
Birth certificate or marriage license

Tax ramifications

The IRS will identify individuals and business entities (such as partnerships, trusts and corporations) eligible for extended deadlines of returns and, if applicable, payment of tax.
  • As of September 13, 2017, filing and payment relief applies to taxpayers residing in the following Florida counties: Broward, Charlotte, Clay, Collier, Duval, Flagler, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Putnam, Sarasota and St. Johns.
  • In U.S. Virgin Islands: The islands of St. John and St. Thomas.
  • You can check for updates to the list of affected areas and find more comprehensive information here.
  • In Puerto Rico: The municipalities of Culebra, Vieques, Canóvanas and Loíza.
  • If you live outside the areas identified by the IRS, you will need to call the IRS to request tax relief.
  • You can check for updates to the list of affected areas and find more comprehensive information here.
If you have filed for an extension on 2016 tax returns to file by September 15, 2017, September 30, 2017, or October 16, 2017, the filing deadline has been extended to January 31, 2018.
Quarterly estimated payments: If you live in an area affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, you are eligible to defer third- and fourth-quarter estimated payments, and some other tax filings and payments, to January 31, 2018, without penalty.
Deductions on casualty losses: Keep all records of costs related to the disaster. If not reimbursed by insurance, such costs can usually be claimed as a casualty loss on your tax return.
  • If there will be a significant casualty loss, make sure you have the income to offset the loss during the tax year or in the preceding year (i.e., 2016 filings for those who have extended) for losses due to a federally declared disaster such as Irma.
  • Generally, casualty losses must be at least 10% of your adjusted gross income for the year for you to take the deduction given adjustments, although some exceptions have been made previously. Visit the IRS for additional information.
  • This may be an instance in which premature distributions from retirement plans are warranted, as the casualty losses can offset the taxes from the distribution.

Tips for avoiding home-repair fraud

Get several bids.
Research potential contractors.
Get proposals and estimates in writing.
Control your payments.
  • Do not pay the entire amount upfront.
  • Do not make final payment until you have inspected the work.
  • Do not pay in cash.
Report bad contractors.

1 NPR reporting; Moody’s analytics; September 12, 2017

2 This information is provided for educational purposes only and reflects the organizations’ descriptions of their efforts, which J.P. Morgan has not independently verified.

3 J.P. Morgan does not endorse or solicit funds for nonprofit organizations. We strongly recommend that, as a matter of course, you consult with your professional legal and tax advisors before contributing to any charitable group.

4 Please consult your legal and tax specialist before making a gift to a non-U.S. charity.

NOTE: J.P. Morgan does not offer legal or tax advice.

 

 

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