On Thursday, First Lady Casey DeSantis announced that the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) secured additional funds to provide vital crisis counseling to those affected by Hurricane Michael.
The $690,000 in additional aid comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide help to people in the Panhandle. A part of Project H.O.P.E., a nationwide recovery group that brings in healthcare workers to address mental health concerns, the money will provide resources and services in Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, and Washington counties.
“From day one the Governor and I have committed to doing everything we can to pursue every resource possible to help the good people of Northwest Florida recover from Hurricane Michael,” said DeSantis. “Ensuring that both physical and mental health needs are being met is essential to a full recovery, and we are proud to support the continued good work of the many organizations and individuals who are providing such essential services.”
On @GovRonDeSantis first full day in office, we promised to stand with the people of NW FL. Today, I’m proud to announce we have secured an additional $690,000 from @fema to continue care coordination & crisis counseling services for those still recovering from Hurricane Michael. pic.twitter.com/1U8Af3N3cw
— Casey DeSantis (@FLCaseyDeSantis) January 23, 2020
The 90-day extension of Project H.O.P.E. will continue employing mental health counselors to help people in hardest-hit areas, keeping 41 full-time staff, including 21 crisis counselors.
“What the people of Northwest Florida experienced in the wake of Hurricane Michael is unimaginable and my heart breaks for the thousands of families whose lives were completely uprooted by this storm,” said FDEM Director Jared Moskowitz. “We know that the students and families impacted by this storm still need our help and continuing this program ensures they can continue using the same resources they’ve relied on during the school year. I’m thankful to our partners at FEMA for recognizing this need as we continue to support those recovering.”
Since the storm, Project H.O.P.E. has provided more than 7,800 individual counseling sessions, more than 27,200 group counseling sessions, and more than 88,500 support contacts throughout the impacted counties. The organization is working creatively to deliver outreach and services at a host of locations including grocery stores, food banks, child care centers, after-school programs, libraries and street-by-street canvassing.
Today’s announcement is part of DeSantis’ Hope for Healing Florida campaign, which strives to combine the resources and efforts of the public and private sectors to better serve Floridians struggling with mental health and substance abuse.