‘All hands on deck:’ Gov. DeSantis gives remarks on recovery efforts in Florida communities hit hard by Ian

Majority of mission requests fulfilled by state, officials say

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis holds news conference in Nokomis on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. (Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

NOKOMIS, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news conference Thursday in storm-ravaged Southwest Florida, just over a week after that part of the state took the brunt of Hurricane Ian.

Speaking at Pelican Alley, a restaurant in Nokomis, DeSantis said the ongoing response efforts of Florida’s hardest-hit communities in the hurricane’s wake are a matter of getting back up after being knocked down.

“So this is going to take a lot of TLC, but my view is we got to get all hands on deck, we got to get all these communities moving forward. If you just let it toil, then that’s how they end up maybe never coming back, so I think there is a sense of urgency on it and we’re working across the board with all those,” DeSantis said.

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The governor updated several known milestones regarding the recovery effort in communities left wrecked by Hurricane Ian, such as the Florida Department of Transportation’s three-day completion of a temporary bridge connecting Pine Island to the mainland, FDOT’s latest reporting that it had cleared 5,000 miles of roadways throughout the state and the continued uptick in donations to the Florida Disaster Fund.

“The first lady, she has really taken the lead on our FloridaDisasterFund.org — so if you go to FloridaDisasterFund.org you can make a donation, or you can text ‘disaster’ to 20222 — and since she launched this at the end of last week, it’s raised over $37 million for the victims of the storm, and there’ll be more on the way,” DeSantis said. “...that’s going to be used across the affected areas to help people who kind of fall through the cracks for some of the FEMA relief or some of the other things the state has, and to make sure that people are getting back on their feet.”

The governor was joined by Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie, FDOT Secretary Jared Perdue and Department of Economic Opportunity Secretary Dane Eagle, among others.

On progress across the board, Guthrie said thousands of hurricane-related mission requests made to the state have so far been fulfilled.

“More than 4,900 mission requests have been put in to the state Division of Emergency Management. About 4,000 of those have been completed and the rest are being processed and completed as quickly as we possibly can. I continue to be amazed by the coordination and collaboration between not only our state partners and local partners, but also private partners. As the governor said, everybody, it’s all hands on deck,” Guthrie said.

The news conference comes a day after DeSantis and President Joe Biden toured the damage left by Ian.

“Today we have one job and only one job, and that’s to make sure the people in Florida get everything they need to fully, thoroughly recover,” Biden said.

The governor, who has been a vocal critic of Biden, thanked the president for his support of the recovery effort.

“We are cutting through the red tape and that’s from local government, state government, all the way up to the president. We appreciate the team effort,” DeSantis said.

Speaking Thursday, Eagle said more Disaster Recovery Centers would soon open in Southwest Florida, enabling people without internet access to do such things as catch up with friends and family, apply for assistance, look for work and more.

“We have a business damage assessment survey. So far, we’ve had about 2,000 businesses report about $300 million in damage. That’s significant and it’s probably more than that, but that’s what we saw reported so far. Please let us know so we can dig in deeper and see what we can do to help, because we’re not going anywhere,” Eagle said.

Eagle also spoke of zero-interest bridge loans of up to $50,000 available to businesses seeking to rebuild after Hurricane Ian, suggesting interested parties visit FloridaDisaster.biz.

The first of the Disaster Recovery Centers opened in Fort Myers on Tuesday. Looking ahead, DeSantis said two new centers would open Friday; one in Sarasota County, at Suncoast Technical College in North Port, and another in Fort Myers, at the city’s Department Management Services building on Victoria Avenue.

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About the Authors:

Thomas Mates is a digital storyteller for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com. He also produces the podcast Florida Foodie. Thomas is originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania and worked in Portland, Oregon before moving to Central Florida in August 2018. He graduated from Temple University with a degree in Journalism in 2010.

Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.