Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, the state has issued more than half a billion dollars for hurricane recovery.
Since March 15, the Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) has expedited those funds, provided through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Public Assistance Grant program.
“When we began our response to COVID-19, we knew that communities would need every available resource to keep their residents safe,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a statement. “That’s why I directed FDEM to expedite these payments in March, and I’m proud to announce that since then, they have paid out more than $500 million in just three months.”
This month, the division entered hurricane season already at its highest activation level for the first time. FDEM has helped coordinate testing sites and response teams
“Even while conducting our COVID-19 response, we never lost sight of the need to award hurricane recovery funding statewide,” FDEM Director Jared Moskowitz said.
Hurricane models are projecting an active season for the coming months. Already, the Atlantic has seen three named storms, but it only takes one storm to be devastating, such as with Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
Mixing the forecasts with the virus, the state had created a reserve of 10 million face masks, 1 million face shields, and 5 million gloves by the start of the season.
The approach to shelters and evacuations also will be different, with an emphasis placed on larger shelters with smaller capacity. Hotel rooms may also be an option for those who won’t be able to shelter in their homes.
Since DeSantis took office in January 2019, the division has awarded more than $2.5 billion for hurricane recovery, which Moskowitz called a landmark accomplishment.
The division began the first week of 2020 by distributing $29 million in hurricane recovery dollars.
Last week, FDEM also began paying out funding through the CARES Act for Florida counties with a population of less than 500,000.
The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.