- Florida is getting more time – and money – to remove debris from Hurricane Ian
- President Joe Biden authorized an extension of federal aid to December 7th
- The Seminole Tribe also received a 30 day extension for storm cleanup work
- Florida’s Division of Emergency Management is still asking the Biden Administration to extend full federal funding through December 21st
TALLAHASSEE — President Joe Biden on Monday extended the period in which Florida will be fully reimbursed for Hurricane Ian debris removal, while the state continues to seek a longer extension for the federal assistance.
Biden pushed Florida’s end date of 100 percent federal funding for debris removal and emergency-protective measures from Nov. 21 to Dec. 7. Biden also extended by 30 days, through Nov. 22, full federal funding for storm-cleanup work conducted by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
For the state and the tribe, the coverage period started Sept. 23, days before the deadly Category 4 hurricane made landfall Sept. 28 in Lee and Charlotte counties and crossed Central Florida.
The state Division of Emergency Management asked Oct. 31 for the coverage period to be extended to Dec. 21, with a second request last week to move the full reimbursement period to Jan. 19.
The state agency said storm-cleanup efforts have been held up by “the prioritization of basic human needs,” inland flooding from Ian and the Nov. 10 landfall of Hurricane Nicole, which “hastily delayed” debris operations.
“Despite this significant mobilization of resources, additional time is needed to provide relief for our impacted communities and clear the way for temporary housing resources,” Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie wrote Nov. 21 to Biden. “In many affected counties, public infrastructure still struggles to provide basic necessities for vulnerable populations, including long-term access to the barrier islands of Lee County.”
Guthrie, noting the Federal Emergency Management Agency has already approved over $1 billion in payments to Floridians and that registrations for individual assistance have topped 900,000, said estimated storm damages and debris operations exceed “tens of billions of dollars.”
“The state of Florida continues to focus on innovative solutions for the multitude of needs for survivors and communities to include sheltering resources, temporary housing, home repairs, and continued debris operations and response efforts,” Guthrie wrote. “With the holiday season forthcoming, the state will continue all lines of effort, however some delays will prove inevitable and beyond our control.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Nov. 21 extended an Ian state of emergency by 60 days, in part because “the scope and scale of the destruction in Southwest Florida is immense and unprecedented” and “those affected by this disaster require the continued support of the state.”
FEMA said Monday the National Flood Insurance Program has paid more than $793 million to people who sustained damage in Hurricane Ian, with the total steadily increasing. The program has received about 44,700 claims from the storm.
Residents who have mortgages on properties in designated flood zones are required to have flood insurance, which is mostly purchased through the federal program.