DeSantis announces over $29.5M for Marion County residents impacted by strong storms, tornado

Severe storm produced EF-1 tornado Saturday morning

ORLANDO, Fla. – Marion County residents impacted by strong storms that ripped through the area last weekend may be eligible for financial assistance in new funding announced by the governor Friday.

According to the governor’s office, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Secretary Dane Eagle announced more than $29.5 million for income-qualified residents in Marion County along with Clay, Putnam and Highlands counties. The governor signed an executive order Saturday to declare a state of emergency in these counties.

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The governor’s office said there will be over $4 million in funding from the Community Services Block Grant for eligible income-qualified households for services including debris removal, housing and food. In addition to that, there is over $25.5 million in Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program funding for income-qualified families with home heating and cooling costs.

During the severe weather that swept through the area Saturday, the National Weather Service determined an EF-1 tornado with estimated peak wind speeds of 110 mph caused damage to several buildings and vehicles in Ocala.

Details in the NWS damage report describe many uprooted trees in the north and east sides of Ocala, a toppled billboard and peeled building siding near Dunnellon, downed power lines and damage to numerous residences, including an apartment building. In its damage survey, NWS Jacksonville said the 200-yard-wide tornado traveled a path of approximately 25 miles from Dunnellon to Ocala in over 28 minutes.

Dash camera shared with News 6 showed the tornado move through the area, shaking as the wind picked up and as objects flew around. Officials in Marion County are now estimating over $15 million in damage as a result of the tornado.

This announcement happened the same day the governor announced $1.1 million raised for tornado victims in Lee and Charlotte counties.

Marion County residents who would like to check if they are eligible for assistance can contact the Central Florida Community Action Agency at 352-373-7667. Residents of the other three counties can check who they can contact by clicking here.

About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.