Nearly $220M allocated to Orange County, hurricane disaster recovery

County leaders are asking residents for input on how to spend funds

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – One year after Hurricane Ian, Orange County leaders introduced a million dollar grant to the community that will go towards unmet needs and hurricane mitigation.

The U.S. Department of Urban Housing and Development allocated $219,712,000 to the county through the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program.

HUD will approve the action plan early next year, and Orange County will have six years from the agreement to spend the money.

Thursday night, leaders asked community members for their input on how and where that funding should be used.

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Hurricane Ian demolished homes, displaced families and flooded roads one year ago after making landfall in the state.

County leaders said the estimated damage to Orange County’s property and infrastructure cost approximately $300 million.

One year later, Orange County residents are still feeling the effects of the storm and have concerns about the next disaster.

Attendees divided up into breakout sessions, answering questions like, “What areas are most at risk?”

Jeannie Economos was a participant.

She said funding should be used to prevent extreme flooding in the Apopka area.

“When we keep building without having recharge areas, without protecting wetlands... the more you take away your green space, the more you take away your recharge areas, then you’re (going to) have flooding in the community,” Economos said.

Another attendee, David Rucker, had the same idea.

“Those things should be addressed before we start building too much,” Rucker said.

Economos worried whether county leaders will follow through.

“I’m very concerned about how this money is (going to) be spent, and I want to make sure that this community is involved and engaged, and they are a part of this process,” she said.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said leaders will be committed to working with the community.

“We’re held accountable by the federal government for the funds we receive,” Demings said.

Orange County leaders asked residents to take a survey to help them identify areas that need the most attention. You can find that survey by clicking here.

The county will hold additional community meetings on the following dates:

  • Oct. 5 at New Beginnings Church — 6 p.m.
  • Oct. 11 at Tildenville Elementary School — 6:30 p.m.
  • Oct. 12 at Meadow Woods Elementary School — 6:30 p.m.
  • Oct. 16 at Bithlo Community Park — 6 p.m.
  • Oct. 17 at Goldenrod Recreation Center — 6 p.m.
  • Oct. 19 at East Orange Community Center — 6 p.m.
  • Oct. 25 at Taft Community Center — 6 p.m.
  • Oct. 26 at Orlo Vista Elementary School — 6:30 p.m.

For more information on future community meetings, visit the county’s website by clicking here.

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About the Author:

Treasure joined News 6 at the start of 2021, coming to the Sunshine State from Michigan.