SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Nearly a month after Hurricane Ian tore through Central Florida, Seminole County leaders report more than a third of debris caused by the storm has now been cleared.
“Debris haulers continue to work around the clock to remove debris, to sort debris and to get debris handled,” Seminole County’s Chief Administrator for the Office of Emergency Management Alan Harris said. “Over 35% of our debris has been picked up here in Seminole County.”
Harris made the announcement at a news briefing Monday at the Seminole County Emergency Operations Center at 150 Eslinger Way in Sanford.
“It is important to note that we have approximately 1 million cubic yards of debris here in Seminole County,” he said. “Again, to put that in a visual, that is 11 of the Spaceship Earth balls over in EPCOT.”
Harris said the county has seen more than 23,100 applications filed for FEMA assistance following the storm along with 798 applications for assistance filed with the Small Business Administration.
“So we can see that there is a need for help here in Seminole County and we are doing what we can to provide it,” he said.
He added that more than 85 families are still in temporary shelters following Hurricane Ian.
Harris was joined by Casey Penn, the Florida Department of Children and Families Assistant Secretary for Economic Self Sufficiency, who discussed the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or D-SNAP, which is now available to residents in Seminole County.
“This program is for any individual who is not currently receiving SNAP benefits with the state of Florida,” he said.
People looking to preregister online can click here. Phones lines for registration are set to open on Thursday.
“It is a phased approach on the phone lines. It runs Thursday through Sunday. So please visit that website as well to see when to call in. We’ve been really efficient through the telephonic process, and we encourage as many people as possible to use that,” Penn added.
And for the first time in a long time, homeowners near Lake Harney in Geneva are now driving through the water on Crossover Lane and Whitcomb Drive. Glen Castle said its a big step towards recovery after weeks of waiting for the water to recede.
“At least now you can start getting more things in that you need and getting more things out,” Castle said.
With power back on, people finally have plans in place to fix their homes, clean their yards and file insurance claims.
“We’ve started getting some help,” Castle said. “We’ve got a new air conditioner coming this week. We’ve had water mitigation.”
Donna Walsh, Florida Department of Health in Seminole Health Officer also spoke, warning residents about possible E. coli contamination of well water.
“Either total coliforms or E. coli have been detected in about 22% of the samples that were taken,” she said.
Walsh said people can call either the Citizen’s Information Hotline at 407-665-0000 or the Florida Department of Health Hotline at 407-665-3604.
“It’s important that if you suspect that your well may be contaminated that you want to take precautions,” she said. “For instance drinking bottled water. Boil your tap water and hold it at a rolling boil for at least one minute and let it cool completely before using it to avoid burns.”
Chris Anderson, Seminole County Supervisor of Elections, also joined the news conference as Monday marked the first day of early voting in the county.
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