Home News DeSantis signs Florida disaster recovery bill from special session in Fort Myers Beach

DeSantis signs Florida disaster recovery bill from special session in Fort Myers Beach

DeSantis signs Florida disaster recovery bill from special session in Fort Myers Beach

Floridians impacted by Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole will soon see further assistance from the state, especially for rebuilding infrastructure and providing critical resources.

Gov. Ron DeSspanntis held a press conference Friday morning on Fort Myers Beach to announce he’d signed Senate Bill 4A, the disaster relief bill approved during a special legislative session held earlier this week.

Joined by local and state leaders at the Yucatan Beach Stand, DeSantis discussed the success they’ve already seen with hurricane recovery so far but added the intent behind the hurricane relief package is to target long-term initiatives for relief.

“I always said throughout the whole time, these recoveries from major storms are really marathons … there’s things that you need in those first 24, 48, 72 hours, then maybe the next weeks but then you look and there’s things that need to get done over a longer period of time,” DeSantis said. “One of the things that we did in this special session, the legislature was able to do a really strong hurricane relief package to be able to assist these areas further beyond what we’ve already done.”

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Florida ‘Toll Relief Program’ established

DeSantis had already signed Senate Bill 6A on Thursday, which established the “Toll Relief Program” with the Florida Department of Transportation to provide account credits to frequent commuters using toll roads across the state. The program will take affect Jan. 1 and run throughout the year, giving Floridians with 35 or more toll transactions per month a 50% credit on their account.

The disaster recovery bill targets critical needs, such as rebuilding damaged infrastructure, helping erosion along coastlines, providing resources and temporary housing. DeSantis said with a record surplus this year, he wanted to use it to help residents as much as possible and not rely on the federal government.

“I don’t know that we’ve ever done anything quite like this in prior hurricanes, where the state is really leading. It’s usually (Florida) begged the federal government to do everything,” DeSantis said. “We haven’t just sat back and waited for the federal government, we’re very active and we lead on our own and so we’re happy to do that.”

Leaders also commended the resources within the bill and the work done by both local and state government so far to provide hurricane relief to impacted areas.

“I think people get frustrated looking into the federal government, they’re fighting with each other and they’re always talking about problems but never solving them,” State Rep. Paul Renner said. “In Florida, with our legislature and America’s greatest governor, we solve problems.”

Tammy Drake, bartender at Snug Harbor Restaurant on Fort Myers Beach, spoke of her experience in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, losing everything she owned and her job. Despite the hardships, she said she was proud of her community for coming together to rebuild and applauded the work of government officials.

“FEMA, the American Red Cross and many others have been a godsend to us but as they start to move on, I was concerned that we would be forgotten when we still need so much help to get back on our feet,” Drake said. “Thank you to Governor DeSantis and the legislature for this disaster relief bill. It will take a huge weight off of our shoulders financially and also helps us to know that we aren’t alone in this.”

Here’s what residents need to know about the new relief bill

DeSantis started out by saying the new bill will provide permanent property tax relief for residential properties that have been rendered uninhabitable due to recent hurricanes.

This bill also appropriates $750 million to support ongoing recovery efforts , including $350 million to support the entire portion of local governments’ match for FEMA Public Assistance.

DeSantis explained that FEMA will cover 100% up to a certain period of time and then it becomes a split of 90/10, with the 10% being split between state and local government.

“What we’re doing with the $350 million is basically having the state pay the local government’s 5%, so you can worry more about doing things that you have to do … ,” DeSantis shared. “This will free up local funds to undertake additional recovery and mitigation efforts and if you look at the $350 million and matching, that basically equates to about $7 billion in total reconstruction and recovery projects that will be undertaken by local governments.”

The bill will also provide the Florida Department of Environmental Protection with:

  • $150 million to support local beach nourishment projects, as well as support a new hurricane restoration reimbursement grant program. This program will assist homeowners with coastal hardening and fortification to protect their property against coastal erosion after both hurricanes.
  • Authorization of the DEP to waive local match requirements for beaches in these impacted areas.
  • $100 million to repair and reconstruct community stormwater and wastewater infrastructure that was damaged by both Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Nicole.

The final $150 million will go to continue the state’s efforts to support homeowners and renters impacted by the storm through its hurricane housing program and rental recovery loan program. DeSantis said this will give residents resources while the state awaits efforts from the federal government.

DeSantis said the state also waived restrictions for travel trailers in flood zones, saying it will help people while they’re making repairs and it didn’t make sense to make them wait.

Kevin Guthrie, director of the Florida Department of Emergency Management, took to the podium later in the conference to further highlight the six-month housing program. He said he saw several residents displaced after these disasters and highly recommended they get registered.

DeSantis also discussed the state’s actions to stabilize Florida’s long turbulent property insurance market and plans to hold insurance companies accountable for abuse of the property appraisal process.

“Part of the problems that we’ve had in the state of Florida is we have 8% of property insurance claims but we account for 80% of litigation costs in property insurance … well, you can think about how that affects you,” DeSantis said. “Are they just going to eat those litigation costs? Of course not. They’re going to pass it along in the form of higher premiums and so, this bill reigns in the incentive to litigate.”

How to apply for temporary housing

  • Go to IspannRecovery.FL.Gov 
  • From there, you will be asked to fill out an application for housing. It will require information, such as name, address, phone number and FEMA registration number. If you have not registered for FEMA, visit DisspansterAssistspannce.gov, download the FEMA Mobile App, or call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).


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