Hurricane Ian Recovery Update: Damage could top $113 billion

One of many coastal homes in Lee County buckled by Hurricane Ian’s winds and storm surge, December 21, 2022. Courtesy, AmeriCorps

Nearly six months after Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida and $7 billion later in response and recovery spending, clean-up continues with more than 600 families still in hotel rooms. 

FEMA reports that $6.97 billion in federal funding has been spent to date helping Floridians recover from Ian, which came ashore near Ft. Myers on September 28, 2022 with 150 mph winds and a 15 foot storm surge.  There was record flooding along the coast and hurricane force winds as far inland as Orlando, with widespread damage across nearly two-thirds of the state.  The money includes:

  • $1.06 billion in FEMA Individual Assistance for 384,477 households to help with rent and repairs (with nearly half – $449 million to 97,878 Lee County households);
  • $1.77 billion in low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration;
  • $3.4 billion in payments from the National Flood Insurance Program to cover more than 47,000 claims; and
  • $738 million to reimburse the state and local governments for the costs of debris removal and emergency response.

At one point, more than 4,500 evacuated families were in hotel rooms provided by FEMA.  Today 613 remain, with another 709 in FEMA travel trailers.  The state of Florida added 504 travel trailers which FEMA said it agreed to pay for.

The cleanup and recovery continues in thousands of homes in Lee and Charlotte Counties, February 1, 2023. Courtesy, AmeriCorps

More than 32.3 million cubic yards of debris has been removed, including almost 12.4 million cubic yards in Lee County.  The state sought and FEMA granted waivers in the application process by some local jurisdictions, saving as much as six months in the debris removal process.  Collier County has been reimbursed $23.2 million for debris removal and emergency protective measures, bringing the total amount reimbursed to local communities to $140 million.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) has secured nearly $800 million in Public Assistance obligations.  By securing these funds so quickly, FDEM said it has been able to generate nearly $1 billion in federal resiliency funds.  This is the most funding ever secured in this time frame and the most ever secured for resiliency funding in such a short time following a disaster for any state-managed hurricane response.

The Governor last week announced two awards through the Florida Disaster Fund totaling $7 million to support small businesses.  The first award of $3 million will go to the nonprofit arm of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association to expand their ability to provide economic relief to hospitality-based businesses that were impacted by the storm.  The second award of $4 million will create a new Small Business Recovery Impact program to support additional small businesses outside of the hospitality sector that have been unable to reopen due to lack of capital.  Small businesses will be eligible for up to $50,000 grants to support their employees and help to reopen and pay for things like equipment, drywall, and commodities.

Hurricane Ian was the third costliest storm to strike the U.S., after Katrina and Harvey, according to NOAA and the National Hurricane Center.  Damage in Florida and other states is estimated at $112.9 billion, including insured and uninsured losses.