Post-storm housing initiatives, more announced at DeSantis event in Fort Myers Beach

FEMA agrees to expedited debris cleanup in Florida

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference in Fort Myers Beach on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2022. (Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday held a news conference at the Times Square promenade in Fort Myers Beach, announcing four new developments in disaster-recovery efforts still underway nearly a month after Hurricane Ian made landfall on the southwestern coast.

The first was of an agreement between Florida and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to expedite federally-funded debris removal on private and commercial properties by way of using satellite-imaging technology to conduct inspections rather than door-to-door visits.

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“These waivers will allow debris removal in private communities and may include removal of damaged slabs on private property. So this is not typically the way this is done, usually that would be not eligible for this type of reimbursement. So we are doing that, this is a great agreement and we want to continue to do, so we’re moving faster than ever on private and commercial property debris removal,” DeSantis said.

The event also featured Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie, State Sen. Kathleen Passidomo (R-District 28) and Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno.

Guthrie spoke about the FEMA debris-removal waivers already in use, illustrating how much quicker of a response was underway compared to what went on after Hurricane Michael.

“We have gotten a list of waivers, about 11 waivers, that we can implement today after this press conference that took 20 months to get done in Hurricane Michael. That’s unprecedented,” Guthrie said. “...We have already removed enough debris in Lee County alone to fill almost 300 Olympic swimming pools. Having these important conversations centered around the division’s solutions to debris removal just weeks after landfall is building the foundation for a swift recovery for this community.”

Guthrie, flanked by mounds of debris at the event, reminded those further inland that traditional application processes will have to be followed.

“So (we) want to make sure that people understand, what you see around us, the commercial debris that is around us, that is what we will be able to do on waivers. However, when you get into more traditional, less-impactful debris, we will and we must follow the normal processes. So these are for those catastrophic and extensive areas,” Guthrie said.

The governor’s second announcement was of the creation of the state’s new Hurricane Ian Debris Cleanup Program, described on its companion website as an option for “private and commercial property owners (who) would like assistance for the assessment and removal of qualifying debris, including vehicles, vessels, and other title property.”

According to the governor, the state found its way to launching the program after some time working to identify and remove vessels damaged during the storm from Lee County waterways. Lee County residents, currently the only group qualified to apply, can learn more and fill an application at

For the third and fourth announcements, DeSantis said first that FEMA Direct Temporary Housing was approved for impacted individuals in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto and Lee counties, adding a new state-led initiative could likely assist those who don’t quality for the federal option.

“The (FEMA) Direct Housing program provides up to 18 months of assistance for manufactured housing units, non-motorized recreational vehicles and other ready-to-occupy housing while folks make plans for permanent housing. Those who’ve already applied for FEMA assistance do not need to reapply. If applicants meet the criteria for direct temporary housing, they will be contacted by FEMA,” DeSantis said.

The state-led housing mission seeks to provide places for property owners to reside on their own land — either with a travel trailer or a recreational vehicle — while repairs are made to their home, DeSantis said. It was not detailed much further, as the governor said the state would be working through it “in the next several months.”

One may apply for assistance from FEMA by visiting, by calling FEMA’s disaster assistance helpline at 800-621-3362 or using the FEMA mobile app.

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About the Author:

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