Tallahassee, FL (STL.News) Thursday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced the launch of the state of Florida’s coordinated effort to access more than $633 million in first-of-its-kind federal funding for disaster mitigation projects. These funds are available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) newly created Community Development Block Grant – Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) program formed in response to the 2016 and 2017 presidentially declared disasters.
“The damage brought by recent hurricanes has made it abundantly clear that Florida must prioritize disaster mitigation projects to better protect our communities from future disasters,” said Governor DeSantis. “Florida has an incredible opportunity to leverage this first-of-its-kind federal mitigation funding to help our communities reduce the impacts and damage from future disasters.”
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) will lead the state’s efforts in creating the State Action Plan that will provide a high-level strategy for how the funding will be used to address eligible communities’ disaster mitigation needs. The State Action Plan will be developed in partnership with state agencies working on resiliency efforts, as well as with input from local communities and stakeholders to determine Florida’s most critical disaster mitigation needs.
“Since day one in office, Governor DeSantis has made it very clear that rebuilding from and making Florida more resilient to disasters is our number one priority,” said Ken Lawson, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. “We’ll continue working with our local, state and federal partners to develop and finalize our State Action Plan for these critical dollars. The sooner our plan is approved, the sooner we can get these much-needed funds into the communities impacted by these storms.”
DEO, alongside other state agencies and local communities, will develop and submit the State Action Plan to HUD for review by February 3, 2020. Upon approval of the plan, DEO will work with statewide partners to distribute the federal funds to help better protect Florida’s communities from future disasters.
“With the infusion of this new federal funding, combined with the bold leadership of Governor DeSantis, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build on the successes of Florida’s existing mitigation and resiliency efforts and truly make Florida’s communities better prepared for and more resilient to future disasters,” said Dr. Julia Nesheiwat, Florida’s Chief Resilience Officer.
“With our unique weather and 1000-plus miles of coastline and low-lying areas, Florida’s communities are particularly susceptible to the impacts of hurricanes and other disasters,” said Noah Valenstein, Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. “This new program will bolster the state’s unified response to resiliency planning and disaster mitigation.”
The state of Florida will continue to engage with and seek input from local, state and federal partners on their disaster mitigation needs and priorities. In the coming weeks, DEO will announce upcoming regional workshops, additional webinars and other opportunities for community partners to learn more and provide input on the State Action Plan.