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Six Months After Hurricane Ian, Ron DeSantis Highlights Recovery Efforts

At the end of last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Fort Myers to highlight recovery efforts following Hurricane Ian.

In the six months since Hurricane Ian made landfall, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) has secured nearly $800 million in Public Assistance obligations at record speed, allowing Florida to generate nearly $1 billion in federal resiliency funds. Through Florida’s state-led housing program, 504 households have received travel trailers, outpacing FEMA’s 460 households that received trailers. Additionally, the governor awarded more than $7 million from the Florida Disaster Fund to support small businesses in Southwest Florida that were affected by the storm.

“When Hurricane Ian made landfall, we made a promise that we would be there for impacted Floridians every step of the way through the recovery process,” said DeSantis. “After the cameras left and the dust settled, we continued to stand up programs where the federal government dragged its feet and we continued to find ways to support Floridians whose needs did not fit into a specific government program. We are glad to be adding to these efforts with today’s announcements.”

“The Division remains committed to seeing Southwest Florida through the recovery process and making this community whole again,” said Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie. “Governor Ron DeSantis continues to lead the way and empower the Division to cut through unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy.”

The governor also announced two awards through the Florida Disaster Fund totaling $7 million to support small businesses. The first award of $3 million will go to the nonprofit arm of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association to expand their ability to provide economic relief to hospitality-based businesses that were impacted by the storm. The second award of $4 million will create a new Small Business Recovery Impact program to support additional small businesses outside of the hospitality sector that have been unable to reopen due to lack of capital. Small businesses will be eligible for up to $50,000 grants to support their employees and help to reopen and pay for things like equipment, drywall, and commodities.

In the six months since Hurricane Ian made landfall, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) has secured nearly $800 million in Public Assistance obligations. By securing these funds so quickly, we have been able to generate nearly $1 billion in federal resiliency funds. This is the most funding FDEM has ever secured in this time frame and the most ever secured for resiliency funding in such a short time following a disaster for any state-managed hurricane response. The governor announced that Collier County has been reimbursed $23.2 million for debris removal and emergency protective measures, bringing the total amount reimbursed to local communities to $140 million.

Following Hurricane Ian, a monumental effort was undertaken to clean debris, restore roadways and bridges, and to reconnect power to homes and businesses.

Temporary repairs to the Pine Island bridge allowed access to Pine Island to be restored in less than three days.

Temporary repairs allowed a one-time convoy of bucket trucks and other equipment, supplies, work crews and emergency response personnel to cross the Sanibel Causeway while more permanent repairs to the causeway could be made.

Access to Sanibel Island via the Sanibel Causeway was restored in 15 days.

Power was restored to all 2.6 million accounts that were able to safely receive power in under two weeks.

The governor gave an update on permanent repair progress to the Pine Island bridge and Sanibel Causeway. The Pine Island bridge repairs are expected to be completed by fall of 2023 and are estimated to cost $25 million when completed. Permanent repairs to the Sanibel Causeway will be complete by the end of this year and are estimated to cost a total of $350 million when complete.

Additionally, more than 877,000 cubic yards of debris was removed on land and an additional 491,000 cubic yards of debris was removed from the water. FDEM partnered with local Sheriff and Police departments to utilize sonar technology to identify 5,672 items in the waterways of Charlotte, Collier, and Lee counties. Items ranged from vessels and vehicles to other debris such as appliances.

Through the Florida State-Led Non-Congregate Sheltering Program, 504 households have received travel trailers in comparison to 460 households that have received trailers from FEMA. The state has also led the Sheltering in Home for Recovery Continuation Program, which provides temporary repairs to homes from Hurricane Ian damage with the support of volunteer organizations and a partnership with Home Depot. Through this program, work orders have been issued to volunteer organizations for 141 projects totaling more than $1.3 million.

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