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Orange County asks how to spend $220 million in Hurricane Ian relief

Homes were flooded in the Orlo Vista subdivision during Hurricane Ian. Here an Orange County sheriff's deputy checks on residents.
Via Facebook
Homes were flooded in the Orlo Vista subdivision during Hurricane Ian. Orange County sheriff's deputy checked on residents there as part of an evacuation effort on Sept. 29, 2022.

As the one year anniversary of Hurricane Ian approaches, Orange County is asking for the public’s advice on how to spend nearly $220 million in federal funds for disaster recovery and mitigation.

The county will create an action plan for those Community Development Block Grant–Disaster Recovery dollars from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The funds "include $191,054,000 for unmet needs and $28,658,000 for mitigation," according tothe county website.

With HUD approval, programs addressing long-term recovery, infrastructure, housing or economic revitalization could start early next year.

“These dollars are intended to help communities in the hardest-hit areas recover from the damage left behind from Hurricane Ian,” Mayor Jerry Demings said in a county news release.

The county says the action plan "will primarily assist low to moderate-income households," especially with housing. It could include "repairs to damaged infrastructure, potential assistance to businesses and affected industries" along with measures that mitigate the risks from future disasters.

The county wants to hear from the community, County Commissioner Mike Scott said.

"We can use it to potentially buy people's homes if that's something that you're looking for," he added. "We can do rehab. We can do a number of programs, but one of the first things we're going to do is solicit feedback.

"You know, it makes no sense for us to come to community saying, ‘Hey, I got chicken sandwiches” and you want cheeseburgers or, ‘Hey, I got hotdogs,” and you want some spaghetti?'"

There’s an online survey -- at surveymonkey.com/r/OC_CDBG-DR -- and eight meetings at 6 or 6:30 p.m. beginning Thursday in Apopka and continuing through October at various locations.

Here's the schedule:

  • Sept. 28, at 6 p.m., John Bridges Community Center, 445 W. 13th St., Apopka.
  • Oct. 5, at 6 p.m., New Beginnings Church, 6859 Edgewater Commerce Parkway, Orlando.
  • Oct. 11, at 6:30 p.m., Tildenville Elementary School, 1221 Brick Road, Winter Garden.
  • Oct. 16, at 6 p.m., Bithlo Community Park, 18501 Washington Ave., Orlando.
  • Oct. 17, 6 p.m., Goldenrod Recreation Center, 4863 N. Goldenrod Road, Winter Park.
  • Oct. 19, 6 p.m., East Orange Community Center, 12050 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando.
  • Oct. 25, 6 p.m., Taft Community Center, 9450 S. Orange Ave., Orlando.
  • Oct. 26, 6:30 p.m., Orlo Vista Elementary School, 3 S. Hastings St., Orlando.
Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.
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