Florida Realtors taps Disaster Relief Fund, sends supplies


ORLANDO, Fla. – Aug. 29, 2017 – Hurricane Harvey's flooding has devastated the eastern coast of Texas – a human tragedy of Texas-sized proportions. How can Florida Realtors help?

President Maria Wells, local associations/boards incoming and past DVPs (district vice presidents) and the Leadership Academy are joining forces to help the Texas members of "our Realtor family." That relief will come in the form of monetary donations and "Totes for Hope" that provide many of life's essential products.

"Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, but make no mistake: A disaster on this scale could have just as easily be in Southwest Florida where waters are currently rising – or Miami, Tampa or Jacksonville," says 2017 Florida Realtors President Maria Wells, broker-owner with Lifestyle Realty Group in Stuart. "Our Realtor family is hurting, and when one of us needs help, we take immediate action.

"As I talked with fellow Realtors in Florida over the past few days, I have been humbled and grateful to see the determination of Realtors to help any way they can. As a result, a statewide grassroots effort to pack and send survival supplies was born called Totes of Hope. All of us have seen the devastation caused by Harvey and the flooding. The president of Texas Realtors and Houston Realtors are so thankful for the outpouring of help and prayers from Florida. Simple things like bottled water, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant and more are in desperate demand – and you can help make a difference."

Florida Realtors flood relief efforts

Financial assistance for disaster relief
The non-profit Florida Realtors Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) was created so Florida's Realtors can help Realtors and their families when disaster strikes, with funding also used at times for disasters that occur outside the state. As a result, the board of the DRF voted to spend $25,000 to help Texas Realtors recover.

"After a flood, brokers and associates haven't just lost a building or computers," says Patti Fitzgerald, the chair of Florida Realtors Disaster Relief Fund. "Their entire business may come to an abrupt halt for months or even a year as local home sales grind to a halt. And beyond their business, these members of our Realtor family may have lost their own home – or they may be housing friends and relatives who did."

Fitzgerald says DRF is also looking at problems in Southwest Florida which currently has seen severe and unexpected flooding.

"Anyone in the Realtor family who asks for help may receive it," she says, noting that the Florida Realtors DRF has an application online here.  "The Florida Realtors Disaster Relief Fund assists Realtors, their real estate employees and Realtor board/associations and staff."

For more info or to donate, visit the Florida Realtors Disaster Relief Fund page on the association's website.

'Totes for Hope'

On Monday, Florida Realtors connected with local associations/boards, the Leadership Academy and District Vice Presidents, both past and present, and asked Florida's local associations to would host a hurricane-supply packing day this week or next week.

Florida Realtors is currently arranging to distribute the supplies to Texans who need help, but the first step is a grassroots effort to compile travel-sized necessities packed inside gallon-sized plastic bags. There will be drop sites for the bags, arrangements for transportation, etc., but over the next few days, local groups will be putting together the bags.

Recommended items to include – preferably in travel-sized quantities – are adhesive bandages, small first aid kits, safety pins, toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, deodorant, body wash, hand sanitizer, disposable razors, shaving cream, combs/brushes, soap, cotton swabs, pocket tissues, lotion, mouthwash and lip balm.

Florida Realtors will supply drawstring tote bags, and members are encouraged to fill the bags with the travel-sized items. For a complete list of recommended items to put into the tote bags, visit Florida Realtors' Disaster Relief Relief Efforts webpage.

Each local effort to compile supplies will be handled in different ways by different people. For more information on efforts in your area, contact your local Realtor association/board.

Call for Action: We need flood insurance now more than ever

If nothing changes, the U.S. will not have flood insurance after Sept. 30. While a quick call to your personal lawmakers may not offer immediate relief to the people suffering in Texas or Southwest Florida, it will provide long-term relief to millions of Americans who could experience a flood next month or next year.

Every voice counts – all Floridians should urge their U.S. representatives to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is set to expire on Sept. 30, 2017. Tell your legislators to vote yes on H.R. 2874.

It only takes a few minutes to participate through the National Association of Realtors® automated system. Realtors should text the word "REALTORS" to 30644 on their mobile device to get a link to the Flood Insurance Call for Action.

Clients, family and friends should participate too. They can access NAR's simple Call-for-Action system by going to: floridarealtors.org/CallForAction.

© 2017 Florida Realtors