Two days after Hurricane Michael’s devastating landfall in Florida, the Department of Florida was still waiting to hear from posts in the storm’s path.
Department of Florida Assistant Adjutant Bruce Comer said there had been no word from District 1 regarding damage to Legion posts there. District 1 includes Mexico Beach and Panama City, two of the hardest-hit areas of the storm.
Comer and other department officials are concerned not only because there are four Legion posts in the immediate vicinity of Panama City and Mexico Beach, but because of what they’ve seen of the destruction Michael left behind.
The department is also waiting on updates from District 2, which includes Tallahassee and was also hit by the storm. Comer said that a collection point for donated supplies is being set up at the Lowe’s store at 5500 Commonwealth in Tallahassee.
At least one Legion post, Post 375 in Southport, Fla., just north of Panama City, sustained major damage. Pictures shared on social media show the post’s roof and at least two walls down after Wednesday’s storm.
The Department of Florida’s website includes links to donate to hurricane relief and how to apply for assistance through the National Emergency Fund, at https://www.floridalegion.org/hurricane-relief/.
In Georgia, Legion Family members in District 12 were looking for resources for disabled residents with medical problems requiring electricity. Some 300,000 had been without power in Michael’s immediate wake, but that number was down to about 72,000 on Friday afternoon.
Alabama, Virginia, and North and South Carolina were also impacted by the storm, with flooding and tornadoes. The death toll from the storm had reached 13 by Friday afternoon — five in Virginia, four in Florida, three in North Carolina and one in Georgia.
NEF funds are available for American Legion and Sons of The American Legion members who have been impacted by the hurricane, as well as Legion posts. NEF provides up to $3,000 for Legion and SAL members with an active membership, and up to $10,000 for posts that have been damaged by a natural disaster.
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.