Florida Senate releases its plan
The first of a series of proposals has been released by the Florida Legislature to help the state recover from the 2022 hurricanes and better prepare for and recover from future storms. It includes measures to improve debris removal, streamline building permits, and permanently fund local government emergency loans. The news is part of this week’s Disaster Management Digest.
The Senate Plan: The Senate Select Committee on Resiliency has been meeting for the past few months to review what worked and what didn’t in the state and local government response to last fall’s Hurricanes Ian and Nicole. The committee last week released its proposals for both immediate help and improvement before the next storm, incorporating them in Senate Bill 250. They include:
- Allowing residents to remain on their property in temporary housing, such as trailers, as they rebuild;
- Requiring faster approval of building permits to streamline the rebuilding effort;
- Retroactively prohibiting local governments from raising building fees until October 2024 in communities impacted by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole;
- Requiring faster removal of damaged derelict boats from state waters by their owners;
- Establishing temporary housing for disaster relief works;
- Establishing permanent funding for local government emergency loans;
- Requiring local governments have uniform pre-storm contracts for debris removal;
- Encouraging local governments and school districts to develop emergency financial plans for disasters; and
- Protecting the identities of people hurt or killed in natural disasters from public records searches to avoid potential fraud.
The proposals on debris removal, derelict vessels and speedier permitting for demolition and repair were put forth by State Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie in a January meeting we covered in these pages. We’ll are following SB 250 in our Bill Watch and will report on its progress.
The House Plan: The Florida House of Representatives is expected to release soon its own proposals to improve hurricane preparation and recovery. The House Select Committee on Hurricane Resiliency & Recovery has also been busy meeting. At its February 23 meeting, Dr. Wesley Brooks, Florida’s Chief Resiliency Officer, briefed lawmakers on the work of the Statewide Office of Resilience.
Dr. Brooks discussed the Resilience Strike Team, which was created in November 2020, a month after Hurricane Eta passed, in response to the devastating storms of Hurricanes Ian and Nicole. The team meets with all of the individual county Emergency Operations Centers every year, ensures vendor contracts are in place for mutual assistance and storm support, and actively participates in industry organizations for mutual assistance.
He also shared the efforts to expedite hurricane recovery support, noting that the state is working to ensure that every county and municipality has a statutory compliant comprehensive vulnerability assessment done by 2026. The state is providing grants to local governments to conduct vulnerability assessments and to make changes to infrastructure based on the assessments. Dr. Brooks said the state is also working with the Department of Defense to fund military installation resilience reviews, which are focused on the communities surrounding the installations.
LMA Newsletter of 3-6-23