Gov. DeSantis addresses need for temporary housing while in Matlacha

Reporter: Michael Hudak Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

People live in tents, in their cars, and on their lanais. The need for temporary housing is evident after Hurricane Ian, but we still don’t know when and where FEMA’s trailers are going.

WINK News brought these concerns to Governor Ron DeSantis on his trip to Matlacha on Wednesday.

The governor didn’t have a straight answer to where the FEMA trailers are, but he knows that people need temporary housing.

DeSantis said he wants to give housing to the people who need it. He said that FEMA wants to give it to the people who need it but said it takes time.

It has been 49 days since the hurricane made landfall, and many people need help.

Tom Simonton is one of the many people who need a place to live.

“Nobody wants to live like this. There’s no doubt,” said Simonton.

Bobbie Jo Gordon needs temporary housing too. “We are completely homeless.”

She can crack a smile, but a smile doesn’t give her son a place to lay his head down.

“I have a 15-year-old son. He used to work at Blue Dog. The Yucatan, and Froggies, so we’re doing whatever we have to do,” said Gordon.

Gordon and her son are doing what the federal government and the state have told them to do. Waiting for help, though, isn’t easy.

“Why is FEMA not bringing stuff for us that we need where we can set up a safe shelter? Maybe a camper or a trailer,” Gordon said.

Governor DeSantis previously announced that the state would work with FEMA to create a first-of-its-kind temporary housing program to help people who FEMA could not help.

The governor said FEMA must go first. So WINK News asked the governor what the timeline is.

“You know, so it’s a great question. So it’s a question about… So FEMA does this housing mission after storms. Obviously, we had homes that were destroyed. But we also wanted to be able to get in the game and do it, you know, maybe a little bit more nimbly. So, they did allow us to pursue that. So Kevin Guthrie is working on it. I’m going to let him kind of roll out exactly when,” said DeSantis.

The bottom line is neither Florida nor FEMA is ready to say when temporary housing will be available.

The best anyone will get from FEMA is that it will take “A significant amount of time” for the temporary housing to be implemented.

“Him riding the school bus is the only sense of normalcy I can give him. Because he lost his home, and he lost his job,” said Gordon.

“I feel lucky to have what I have. Even though it’s not perfect, but hey, it will be someday. You just gotta have the right attitude. I think that means a lot. I still do,” said Simonton.

WINK News reached out to Kevin Guthrie, the man in charge of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management but has not heard back.

You can watch the governor’s remarks below or click here.

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