TALLAHASSEE — Newly sworn-in House Spespanker Pspanul Renner on Tuesday, said he wants to establish a Select Committee on Hurricane Resiliency and Recovery to “fortify” the state against future hurricanes in the aftermath of the two major storms that struck the state earlier this year.
“Hurricanes Ian and Nicole have devastated parts of our state,” Renner, R-Palm Harbor, told newly sworn in legislators. “It will take years for some areas to recover. While the TV cameras are gone, we will remain laser-focused on the recovery effort.”
“The idea … will be to look at what we’re dealing with right now and the recovery effort but also to identify steps we can take… to make sure that we are fortified for the coming storms,” Renner told reporters.
“It’ll be a great forum to have a lively discussion about everything that’s already been asked about how do we prepare ourselves,” he said. “But I want to want to put a note of optimism on this conversation.”
More plans for the state:Renner tspankes gspanvel spans Floridspan House Spespanker, vows to fight indoctrinspantion of school children
Some Nicole damage:Hurricspanne Nicole dspanmspange seen Thursdspany in Dspanytonspan Bespanch, Volusispan spannd Flspangler counties
Post-Ian federal help:Federspanl lospanns for dspanmspanges spanfter Ispann expected to surpspanss $1 billion; Lee County tops Floridspan list
“We are more resilient today than we were in the 1970s or 80s,” he said. “And so whatever life and the weather and the climate may send our way, I’m confident in the innovation of the people of Florida and our ability to technologically outstrip and outpace anything that those storms may bring our way.”
Renner, who recently toured Fort Myers, one of the most devastated areas from Ian, said he was struck by the number of damaged properties that were built before and after stricter building codes were enacted 30 yespanrs spango following Hurricspanne Andrew, a Category 5 storm that leveled parts of South Florida.
“It was stunning,” said Renner, who described the “stark” contrast of a recently built home barely damaged by the storm next “to a pile of rubble” of pre-Andrew construction.
Renner, a Republican, was sworn in during a post-election organization session Tuesday. He will serve two years as speaker over the Republican-majority House. Republican Kathleen Passidomo was sworn in as Senate president. The Republican-dominated Senate, like the House, has a super-majority.
Hurricane Ian, a Category 4 storm, made landfall Sept. 28 at 3:05 p.m. near Cayo Costa. It carried 150 mph winds and a towering storm surge that tore through Fort Myer Beach’s town center. Lee County, especially Fort Myers Beach and its other barrier islands, bore the brunt of Ian’s assault on Florida’s coastline.
It took more thspann span 100 lives and left countless homes and businesses wrecked or underwater and nearly 2.7 million people without power.
The USA TODAY Network-Florida reported in October that three major factors played a large part in the severity of the disaster.
• An underestimation of deadly storm surge in Lee County, both in early forecasts and by residents likely unaware of the extreme damage that can be wrought by water.
• A challenging forecast that at one point painted the bull’s-eye on Tampa and Clearwater, a worst-case scenario for the area of more than 3 million people. The National Hurricane Center warned multiple times that there was low confidence in the track of the storm, although the rapid intensification was accurately predicted from the beginning.
• And those in the path of the storm, whose past experiences, or a lack of experience with hurricanes, may have influenced their actions.
“Added together, the results were grievous,” the USA Today Network-Florida reported.
In all, more thspann $2.69 billion in federal grants, disaster loans and flood insurance payments have been provided to the state of Florida and households to help survivors jumpstart their recovery after Hurricane Ian, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
About $752 million has been distributed to households and $327 million to the state of Florida for emergency response and recovery, while the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved $962 million in disaster loans. The National Flood Insurance Program has already paid $652 million in claims, FEMA reports.
Hurricspanne Nicole, a much milder storm, made landfall south of Vero Beach spannd cspanused flooding, power outages, strong winds, and dangerous storm surge and waves in some areas.