homepage logo

More recovery mitigation money

By Staff | Oct 26, 2023

The city of Cape Coral got some good news this week as Hurricane Ian recovery continues.

City staff submitted an application to the state for a share of a $350 million Legislature-approved appropriation for local governments through the Florida Department of Emergency Management for recovery efforts related to hurricanes Ian and Nicole.

The money is specifically earmarked to aid with the Public Assistance Match Requirement.

FEMA was to pick up 75% of qualifying hurricane damage costs, the state 12.5%, with the city and other local governments to pick up their remaining 12.5%.

The city was notified last week that its application was approved and the state would pick up Cape Coral’s 12.5% match.

Some additional good news at the federal level has changed that for the better for all Florida taxpayers.

On Thursday, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell announced that President Joe Biden made additional disaster assistance available to the state to supplement recovery efforts in the areas affected by the devastating storm that made landfall on Cayo Costa last Sept. 28 as a Category 4 hurricane, devastating many parts of Lee County.

The president authorized the federal cost-share for public assistance to be increased from that 75% to 90% of total eligible costs, a release from FEMA states, adding to date, approximately $8.7 billion in federal assistance has been provided to Florida for things such as relief to 26 counties, including Lee; disaster loans for homeowners, renters and businesses through the U.S. Small Business Administration and National Flood Insurance Program claims for 47,300 property owners.

Lee County received a Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery award of $1.1 billion to support long-term recovery efforts and $9.1 million in Hurricane Housing Recovery Program funds in addition to various other FEMA allocations.

Since the state already has committed to picking up Lee County’s match requirement, the move by the Biden administration to increase FEMA’s cost share has more direct benefit on state coffers.

That doesn’t mean the recovery piggy bank is finally full.

The School District of Lee County, unfortunately, among the many still awaiting needed recovery money.

The District’s cost-share, which was previously 12.5%, has now been reduced to 5% through President Biden’s directive, thereby decreasing the out-of-pocket costs for the District for expenses determined to be eligible by FEMA.

But with district damage estimates as high as $277 million, it has only received $10.9 million from FEMA to date with insurance paying only $44.7 million thus far.

So yes, good news, but still a ways to go.

— Breeze editorial