One of the most powerful hurricanes to ever hit the continental United States, Hurricane Michael, roared ashore near Mexico Beach, Fla., on Wednesday, killing at least two people and leaving thousands without power.
“Due to the frequency and the power of hurricanes which have occurred during the last couple of years, it is possible to become de-sensitized to these natural disasters. I implore people to avoid that mentality,” National Commander Brett P. Reistad said. “Each of these storms are deadly and if it is your house that is under water or ravaged by devastating winds, the sense of loss and despair can be unimaginable. Those who are in harm’s way, please make personal safety priority one. Items can be replaced, but people cannot. Together, we will get through this."
Michael was downgraded to a tropical storm as it crossed Georgia overnight, but it was still expected to cause plenty of damage as it moved across the Carolinas Thursday on its way to the Atlantic on Friday. North and South Carolina are still recovering from September’s Hurricane Florence.
The American Legion’s National Emergency Fund (NEF) provides immediate cash grants for Legionnaires, posts and Sons of The American Legion members who are impacted by natural disasters such as hurricanes and flooding.
“Local American Legion posts have always stepped up and assisted their communities during times of disaster, and I have faith that they will continue to do so," Reistad said. "No matter where you live, some type of natural disaster can strike. We remain committed to helping the people of the southeastern United States recover from these storms.”
How you can help
In advance of the storm, the Department of Florida updated its home page to include links to hurricane relief and was already asking for monetary donations at https://www.floridalegion.org/hurricane-relief/. That page also includes links on how to apply for assistance as well as how to help those affected by the hurricane.
To donate to The American Legion’s National Emergency Fund, go to https://www.legion.org/emergency.
How to get help
The National Emergency Fund is available for American Legion and Sons of The American Legion members who have been impacted by natural disasters, as well as Legion posts. The NEF provides up to $3,000 for Legion and SAL members with an active membership who have been displaced due to damages to their primary residence, and up to $10,000 for posts that have been damaged by a natural disaster and whose programs and activities within the community are impacted. To apply for an NEF grant, please visit www.legion.org/emergency.
For individual NEF grants submitted for Hurricane Michael, applicants:
• Must have been displaced from their primary residence which sustained damages from the hurricane and/or flooding.
• Should have receipts for out-of-pocket expenses (i.e., temporary housing, food while displaced, and other essentials to survive during the displaced period). The intent of the NEF grant is not to replace household goods or the living facilities, as these are insurance items. The grant is to be used to offset expenses needed in order to survive during the disaster period.
• Should have photos of damaged home, as well as hotel, gas and food receipts, or testimony from post, district or department officers attesting to damages or extraordinary circumstances.
For American Legion post NEF grants, posts must state why they will cease to perform their duties and activities in the community due to losses sustained. Legion posts that served as community service centers during the disaster may also be eligible for a grant to offset their costs in providing food and other services to members of their community during these disasters.
To apply for an NEF grant, please visit www.legion.org/emergency.
Since Jan. 1, 2018, the NEF has provided more than $166,000 in grants. These grants are made possible by donations to the fund. To donate, visit www.legion.org/donate.
Additionally, The American Legion's Temporary Financial Assistance (TFA) program is available to help meet the basic needs of minor children of eligible veterans. These needs include shelter, food, utilities, clothing and health expenses. TFA grants are available to children (17 years or younger) of active-duty servicemembers or American Legion members. No child can be considered eligible until a complete investigation is conducted at the post or department level, a legitimate family need is determined, and all other available assistance resources have been utilized or exhausted.
To apply for a TFA grant, contact your local American Legion post or department (state) headquarters. For post/department contact information, click here.