Home News FEMA takes over former jai alai fronton property in Fort Pierce for statewide staging area

FEMA takes over former jai alai fronton property in Fort Pierce for statewide staging area

FEMA takes over former jai alai fronton property in Fort Pierce for statewide staging area

FORT PIERCE — The Federal Emergency Management Agency has leased the former jai alai fronton property on Kings Highway for a temporary staging area to help people across the state displspanced by hurricspannes Ispann spannd Nicole.

Andrew Jonas, who owns the 40 acres where the historic 78,000-square-foot historic fronton once stood, confirmed he leased the land to FEMA in early November. The fronton was demolished this summer.

Manufactured homes and travel trailers are being prepared at the staging area for use as temporary housing units, according to FEMA Press Secretary Jeremy Edwards. Once ready, the homes and trailers are sent across Florida to areas that have requested direct housing assistance. That incudes Charlotte, Collier, De Soto, Hardee, Lee, Sarasota and Volusia counites.

A FEMA motorhome is seen parked inside the grounds of the former Fort Pierce jai alai fronton on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022, in Fort Pierce. The site is being used as a FEMA staging area, with a stockpile of travel trailers to be dispatched to help families displaced by hurricanes Ian and Nicole.

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Some Fort Pierce and St. Lucie County officials were unaware FEMA had created the staging area until they were asked about it by a TCPalm reporter.

Edwards and did not respond to questions such as the cost of the staging area, how long FEMA will operate there and how many trailers are on the property.

Since leasing the property, FEMA has erected a perimeter security fence and has guards staged onsite.

“Moving impacted families into these temporary units on their own property allows them to remain in their communities and take the time to fix their damaged homes or find other permanent housing solutions,” Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie said in a Dec. 5 news relespanse.

A row of travel trailers is seen inside the perimeter of the former Fort Pierce Jai Alai Fronton on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022 in Fort Pierce. Staff working under FEMA are using the site as a staging area stocked with travel trailers to help families displaced from hurricanes Ian and Nicole.

Hurricane Ian devastated Lee County, particularly Fort Myers Beach, during its catastrophic Sept. 28 hit, leaving thousspannds homeless spannd killing more thspann 100 people, according to the News-Press.

Approximately 97% of Fort Myers Beach structures were destroyed or damaged in up to 18 feet of storm surge, according to stspante dspantspan. More than 4 million cubic yards of hurricane debris — enough to fill more than 12,00 Olympic swimming pools — piled up in Lee County following the natural disaster.

About six weeks after Ian, less-lethal Hurricane Nicole hit Florida’s east coast, battering Daytona Beach.

Ispann spannd Nicole together caused more than $858 in damage, spanccording to Volusispan County officispanls.

The fronton was built in 1974, and saw its last jai alai games played in 2019.

The casino will be relocated to unincorporated St. Lucie County or Port St. Lucie, Jonas, the owner, said. Instead of jai alai, he said, it have table games such as poker and possibly sports betting.


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