Gov. DeSantis provides update on trailers, money distributed for hurricane relief

Reporter: Gail Levy Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

Governor Ron DeSantis was in Morse Shores on Thursday to announce help from the state for hurricane victims. DeSantis discussed everything the state government has done to help those most affected by the hurricane.

DeSantis said the state has handed out 140 trailers, roughly 60 more than FEMA has, and said there are 2,400 more trailers on the way.

The governor introduced us to a woman who now calls one of those trailers home.

Barbara Morgan is one happy camper. “I’m as neat as can be.”

Barbara Morgan in her new Unite Florida trailer. (Credit: WINK News)

She can call her property home again. “Oh my God, that was Sunday, yeah, when we moved in. Like I said, brand spanking [new]. I never expected we were gonna have… I thought we had to clean it up. We never expected anything like this.”

She loves that her trailer is brand new. “It’s got everything in it, including a microwave, a TV, heating, and cooling.”

Morgan also loves that nearly four months after six feet of water filled her home, she can finally relax and pay attention to the work that needs to be done to her home.

“I don’t have a worry about, you know, not going anywhere. My contractors said four months. We don’t know. The problem is the Lee County permit process,” Morgan said.

Morgan made the call to Unite Florida for a trailer four weeks ago. Every week she heard about more and more progress.

“I was ecstatic, I could not believe like when she called me and said, ‘hey, I’m in your driveway.'”

Morgan said the one thing that took the longest was getting Lee County permits. It’s what the Department of Emergency Management’s biggest challenge is to get the trailers on any property.

“For example, there are no units, there is no uniformity at local levels on timelines, permits, inspections, required documentation, and so on within any individual jurisdiction. Today, we have 411 people waiting to go into a congregate group site,” said Kevin Guthrie, director of the Florida Department of Emergency Management.

Guthrie is still urging people to reach out to Unite Florida if they need a trailer, but he wants folks to know why the process can be so challenging.

“We were going to be here. We’re going to be here time and time again to help the citizens of Southwest Florida,” said Guthrie.

The goal is for everyone in Southwest Florida to be as happy as Morgan.

If you want to apply for a Unite Florida trailer, you can call 1-800-892-0948 or apply online.

Trailers weren’t the only good news the governor came to Southwest Florida with on Thursday.

He also announced that $1 million is going to schools from the Florida Disaster Fund after Hurricane Ian.

This comes after the governor already awarded $8 million to teachers, first responders, and the National Huard.

He left the door open for them to get more and said let me know we’ve definitely got the money. That’s how teachers across Lee, Collier, Sarasota, Hardy, and DeSoto counties got the extra million; they asked.

Teachers can use the cash to help with food, gas, baby supplies, home repairs, and even transportation. The governor said that’s money well spent because the sooner students and teachers are back in the classroom, the sooner parents are back at work. One step closer to normalcy.

“The first day that the Sanibel School reopened on the San Carlos Elementary campus, I was there to greet our students, parents, and faculty members. Despite my own personal circumstances at home, I powered through the day because I wanted to be there for my students and staff, especially those that had already lost so much. I wanted them to see a smiling familiar face and to give them a reassuring hug to remind them that everything was going to be OK,” said Michelle Heuck, with the Sanibel School.

Heuck said after months of repairs, the school is expected to open up again in just a couple of weeks.

Governor DeSantis also announced that $23 million would go to recover and renourish Lee County Beaches.

You can watch DeSantis’ remarks in the player below or by clicking here.

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