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Hurricane Ian relief funding exceeds $200 million in Orange County

Hurricane Ian made landfall on 09/28/22 north of Fort Myers as Category 4 storm, and traveled up the state hitting Central Florida as a Category 1 storm.
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Hurricane Ian made landfall on 09/28/22 north of Fort Myers as Category 4 storm, and traveled up the state hitting Central Florida as a Category 1 storm.

Orange County is inviting the public to comment on its action plan regarding Hurricane Ian disaster relief funding.

On Tuesday, the county publicly revealed and spoke about its action plan during a commissioners' meeting.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allocated over $200 million for Orange County due to it being one of the four counties most impacted by Ian, the other three are Lee, Sarasota, and Volusia counties. The county is set to receive long-term recovery funding through the Orange County Housing and Community Development Division. Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding is designed to address the unmet needs of an area that is yet to be resolved after all other assistance has been exhausted.

The county identified $427 million in unmet needs from the storm. Costs broke down to $253 million in housing damages, $116 million in infrastructure and public facility damages, and $13 million from economic revitalization programs.

Orange residents were previously invited to offer their preferences through a county-wide survey offered from September to November. The survey was offered in English, Spanish, and Creole. The county also hosted 13 meetings to hear from the public. The top comments indicated residents were most interested in affordable housing, housing rehabilitation and repair, hurricane preparedness and resiliency as well as mental health services.

Leaders say the current action plan calls for $108 million toward new affordable housing and $59 million to strengthen support services, said Mitchel Glasser, the county manager.

"These will be activities to rebuild, replace or strengthen, impacted assets that provide support services to the general public such as roadway stormwater, sewer infrastructure, water resource projects, shelters homeless emergency," he said.

Orange County Commissioner Emily Bonilla said she wants to see an emphasis on disaster mitigation projects to help alleviate areas plagued by flooding.

"Areas continue to flood from just a thunderstorm. So we need some mitigation happening. We need some reservoirs happening to prevent these continued floodings," she said.

About $8 million has been set aside for flooding mitigation activities.

The public comment period began Monday and will continue until Jan. 10. Residents can submit comments by directly mailing or emailing the county. Commissioners will go over public comments during their Jan. 11 meeting.

Public comments can be sent to:
- 525 East South Street, Orlando, Florida 32801
- Email: Disaster.Recovery@ocfl.net

Originally from South Florida, Joe Mario came to Orlando to attend the University of Central Florida where he graduated with degrees in Radio & Television Production, Film, and Psychology. He worked several beats and covered multimedia at The Villages Daily Sun but returned to the City Beautiful as a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel where he covered crime, hurricanes, and viral news. Joe Mario has too many interests and not enough time but tries to focus on his love for strange stories in comic books and horror movies. When he's not writing he loves to run in his spare time.
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