DeSantis launches donation portal for Southwest Florida tornado survivorsFebruary 24, 2022
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is calling on Floridians to financially help their neighbors – mostly senior citizens – impacted by two tornadoes last month.
While the state and counties are working to help them, DeSantis said the federal government is not. He is asking capable residents by making a tax deductible donation to FloridaDisaster.org/Assistance.
On Jan. 16, tornadoes touched down in Placida, in Charlotte County, and in Iona, in Lee County. A total of 158 homes were either totally destroyed or sustained major damage. The majority of residents impacted were seniors; 84% dependent on Social Security income to live, according to an assessment by the state.
DeSantis issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency for both counties and requested a major disaster declaration from the Biden administration. Florida offered aid through its Individual Assistance program and requested assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
One month later, FEMA denied Florida’s request.
The state appealed, but in the meantime, DeSantis said, “We cannot continue waiting on the federal government to provide relief to these Floridians. After meeting with survivors last week, it’s clear they still need our help. We’ve helped community leaders launch this portal to expedite assistance for impacted residents and we’re going to ensure they get help.”
The state is partnering with the Charlotte Community Foundation to collect and disburse donations for disaster survivors. The foundation initially established a disaster relief fund for Charlotte County victims and is providing direct financial assistance.
FDEM Director Kevin Guthrie said the donations will provide direct assistance to disaster survivors who need it most. Donations will be prioritized for survivors whose homes were assessed as being destroyed or sustaining major damage, per FEMA criteria through previous Joint Preliminary Damage Assessments. The state is coordinating with Charlotte and Lee counties to connect survivors directly with the portal.
“The Division is working around the clock to connect disaster survivors with this vital resource, which will help them recover faster and begin to rebuild after experiencing extensive devastation,” he said. “For the last month, residents in Charlotte and Lee Counties have been navigating the difficult recovery process after a series of severe storms brought devastation to their communities. As their state partners, it’s our responsibility to fight for these Floridians and ensure they have every resource to help them recover.”
During the state’s assessments, FDEM discovered that some survivors were forced to stay with neighbors to remain near their damaged homes. With a high percentage of both older adults and destroyed homes, there’s a risk of their health declining due to displacement and unstable housing, FDEM warns.
Disaster survivors whose homes were destroyed or sustained major damage can call the donation portal at 833-930-3707. It’s available to survivors seven days a week from 8 a.m.– 8 p.m.
This article was originally posted on DeSantis launches donation portal for Southwest Florida tornado survivors