Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has launched an online giving portal to raise funds for residents in need of tornado relief in his state after the Biden administration’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) denied a request for help.
The donation portal was made available on Tuesday through the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) website.
“We cannot continue waiting on the federal government to provide relief to these Floridians,” DeSantis said in a statement.
“After meeting with survivors last week, it’s clear they still need our help. We’ve helped community leaders launch this portal to expedite assistance for impacted residents and we’re going to ensure they get help,” he added.
FDEM Director Kevin Guthrie also emphasized the importance of getting assistance to those who need it most.
“These donations are going to directly provide assistance to our disaster survivors who need it most,” Gutherie said in the statement.
“The Division is working around the clock to connect disaster survivors with this vital resource, which will help them recover faster and begin to rebuild after experiencing extensive devastation,” he added.
Florida is partnering with the Charlotte Community Foundation to collect and distribute the funds for those impacted by the tornadoes.
“At this time, donations will be prioritized for survivors whose homes were assessed as being destroyed or sustaining major damage, per FEMA criteria through previous Joint Preliminary Damage Assessments. The State is coordinating with Charlotte and Lee counties to connect survivors directly with the portal,” according to the program’s guidelines.
The tornadoes spurring the need for relief took place during the early morning of January 16. A confirmed EF-1 tornado touched down in Charlotte County, along with a confirmed EF-2 tornado in Lee County.
A letter confirming FEMA’s rejection of Florida’s request was sent on February 15, stating, “the damage from this event was not of such severity and magnitude as to be beyond the capabilities of the state, affected local governments, and voluntary agencies.” An appeal to the federal government is in process.
“While we begin the decision appeal process, I want to reassure Floridians that the Division is committed to supporting recovery efforts,” Gutherie said in a statement last week. “We’ll continue to work with our local and federal partners to provide relief to impacted residents and ensure all types of disaster assistance is made available.”
In a statement on Monday, DeSantis also blasted the Biden administration’s decision.
This week, FEMA denied Florida’s request for Individual Assistance for Floridians displaced by tornadoes in Charlotte and Lee counties.
We urge FEMA to reconsider its decision. Floridians shouldn’t be punished for a disaster outside of their control due to White House politics. pic.twitter.com/lHUtznMDsb
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) February 18, 2022
“Floridians shouldn’t be punished for a disaster that was outside their control because of White House politics,” the governor noted.
“The scope of devastation in these communities makes it clear that survivors need additional assistance and I’m urging the Biden administration to reconsider its decision. The State of Florida stands with the residents of Charlotte and Lee counties and will work hard to secure all forms of disaster assistance,” DeSantis added.
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