DeSantis discusses steps taken in Ian recovery

(AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File)
Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 1:59 PM EDT
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FORT MYERS, Fla. (WWSB) - During a visit to Fort Myers, Gov. Ron DeSantis took the opportunity to break down funding distribution used to make repairs following Hurricane Ian.

In the six months since Hurricane Ian made landfall, the Florida Division of Emergency Management secured nearly $800 million in Public Assistance. That will allow Florida to generate nearly $1 billion in federal resiliency funds. The governor also touted the success of the state’s housing program that have provided housing for 504 families.

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 Governor Ron 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 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.

Through the funding Collier County has been reimbursed for debris removal and other restorations of infrastructure.

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

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.