Resilient Lee Task Force town hall: How to invest $1.1B in Ian recovery funds

Reporter: Taylor Wirtz Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:

Giving your opinion on how to spend $1.1 billion of Hurricane Ian recovery money. That’s the purpose of Monday night’s first Resilient Lee Task Force town hall.

Some people want more affordable housing, others want help bringing back small businesses, and others want to invest in infrastructure to prevent something like Ian from happening again. All opinions are welcome and encouraged during the town hall meeting.

Bob Miller, like many others, lost everything to Hurricane Ian.

“My house was destroyed. So that’s the probably most obvious impact,” Miller said.

But Monday night, the Resilient Lee Recovery Task Force is giving Miller and other Lee County residents a chance to do something about it.

The evening was one of more than a dozen town halls that will take place across the county that seeks to get to the heart of the issue, what do people need to recover. Where should the money, including the $1,100,000,000 in Hurricane Ian recovery funds go?

Miller said he’d like to see it go towards restoring local businesses and more affordable housing.

“We’re a tourist, tourism-based Island, right. So we need the businesses to flourish for the island to do well,” Miller said. “Having housing for the people that are gonna have to come and work on the island, and the people that are trying now to help us rebuild the island, we need affordable housing, and desperately.”

Michael Young, a fellow Sanibel resident, said he was without power for months after Ian. He’s concerned with keeping that from happening again.

“Councilman Kevin Ruane talked about maybe we need to do the power lines different now. And I think he’s right. And then previous mayor, Holly Smith, made some great comments on not just building back but building back better and how we’re going to be more resilient in the future. And I think that’s important,” Young said.

That’s the goal of the town halls, building resiliency with community involvement because nobody knows what Lee County needs more than the people living in it.

“I think the leaders have engaged the community, and they better be ready for us to stay engaged and stay after them, and I think they will be,” Young said.

“This is not a short term; this is a long-term recovery that we’re all going to be having together,” Sanibel Councilwoman, Holly Smith said.

If you didn’t attend Monday’s meeting there are many more to come. Click here to find a full schedule of the upcoming meetings.

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