Photo by Matt Keller Lehman
More than 700,000 Florida households have applied for individual federal assistance after Hurricane Ian and another 130,000 are expected to apply, a Federal Emergency Management Agency official said Wednesday.
Also, the agency said it would provide temporary housing to people affected by the storm in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto and Lee counties.
“We want to keep everybody local,” Federal Coordinating Officer Tom McCool said during a news conference in Fort Myers.“We want to keep you in your communities, where you go to church, whatever house of worship, where the kids go to school and where you’re comfortable.”
Meanwhile, FEMA said it approved a separate request from Florida to help speed up the removal of debris on private and commercial properties through use of satellite imagery and other technology. During the news conference, Gov. Ron DeSantis said that after Hurricane Michael hit Northwest Florida in 2018, it took more than 20 months to address debris removal from private and commercial properties in some areas.
“In the past, FEMA would literally have to go door to door to physically inspect structures,” DeSantis said. “But as you know, that can take months to be able to complete. So by leveraging technology, we're avoiding that tedious process and allowing FEMA to make quicker determinations for program eligibility.”
The state also has created a program to remove displaced and abandoned property such as boats, cars, motorcycles, trailers and all-terrain vehicles on private and commercial properties and in waterways, DeSantis said. DeSantis said 869 abandoned vehicles and vessels had already been identified on private and commercial properties.