Lee County commissioners approve roadmap for hurricane recovery and future resilience

Reporter: Emma Heaton
Published: Updated:

Lee County commissioners have given their nod to the Resilient Lee Recovery and Resilience plan, a roadmap for the community’s recovery and future resilience.

Developed by the Long-Term Recovery Task Force with input from over 200 community members, the plan, accepted Tuesday, outlines 43 initiatives to help Lee County bounce back from Hurricane Ian and prepare for future disasters.

Key points of the plan

  • Collaborative Focus: The plan focuses on teamwork and coordination across the region, aiming to address needs like emergency logistics, healthcare system resilience and housing coordination.
  • Funding Opportunities: Funding sources include federal disaster relief and HUD’s Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funding. 

Long-term vision

  • Covers both immediate and long-term recovery needs, such as critical facility hardening and infrastructure improvements.

Community effort

  • Commissioner Brian Hamman praised the task force chairman Commissioner Kevin Ruane and the community’s involvement, calling the plan a playbook for securing funding.
  • Other commissioners echoed this sentiment and discussed the progress made since Hurricane Ian struck.

Challenges ahead

While progress has been made, there are challenges ahead.

The plan outlines eight recovery branches, including areas like economic recovery, education, workforce and infrastructure to address these challenges comprehensively.

Nov. 29, 2023, WINK News spoke to Sonya Layour of Lee County regarding initiatives on the plan, including housing and potable water. 

“Why are people still homeless?” said Layour. “This is a 911 sense of urgency. Let’s get teams together. Teams of 20, put them in neighborhoods door to door with paperwork, applications, seeing what the need is. Let’s come back. Now we collab. Now we fix the problem.”

Residents’ thoughts

The plan includes buying out homeowners prone to flooding and supporting housing repair-reconstruction program initiatives.

Something Layour told us should be top of mind and echoes those same sentiments today.

“My thing is timing. It should have never took this long. People took their life,” she said.

Layour believes the county needs to put boots on the ground and get information about the plan out to the people who need it.

She said the plan is a step in the right direction and while it may benefit some, it will be a disservice to others who don’t understand the plan in its entirety or how it pertains to their specific situation.

“I would tell the commissioners to get boots on the ground, because really, mentally, you need to see what’s going on with these folks, and you also need to see if if they really understand,” said Layour.

Next steps

The approval of the Resilient Lee plan signals a significant milestone for Lee County. The focus now shifts to implementing the plan’s initiatives and building a stronger, more resilient community for the future.

To learn more about the plan, visit the Resilient Lee website.

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