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Environment

Gov. DeSantis announces nearly $20 million in grants for vulnerability studies

 Gov. Ron DeSantis announces award of nearly $20 million in funding for 98 projects across Florida to better conduct risks posed by flooding from sea level rise, storm surge and rainfall events.
John Davis, WGCU
Gov. Ron DeSantis announces award of nearly $20 million in funding for 98 projects across Florida to better conduct risks posed by flooding from sea level rise, storm surge and rainfall events.

DeSantis says the funds will local officials prepare for the impacts of major storms.

Governor Ron DeSantis was at Lovers Key State Park in Lee County Tuesday to announce the award of nearly $20 million in grant funding for Florida communities to better assess the risks to critical infrastructure posed by flooding from sea level rise, storm surge, and rainfall events.

The funding comes in the form of Resilient Florida Program Planning grants and will go to 98 projects across the state, mostly in coastal communities.

Governor DeSantis says the money funds vulnerability assessments that help local officials prepare for the impacts of major storms.

“What happens is when they do these vulnerability assessments, they’re able to identify where vulnerabilities are in their communities. They can propose and apply for grants to be able to fortify those vulnerabilities, and then with the money in our Resilient Florida Program, we can match that,” said DeSantis.

Over the past two years, DeSantis says the state has earmarked more than $1 billion to fund projects through the Resilient Florida program.

““Almost always, we get a one-to-one match, and so you’re really looking at two billion dollars of fortification just for our efforts over the last couple of years,” said DeSantis.”

Florida Chief Resilience Officer Dr. Wesley Brooks spoke at Tuesday’s press conference in praise of the state’s investment in the program so far. He gave examples of the types of projects that funding could support.

“It’s the work that will keep critical facilities operational in the wake of a storm surge event, that will allow first responders to better access flood-impacted communities on raised emergency evacuation routes, that will expedite the removal of storm water from neighborhood streets without degrading water quality in our precious springs, lakes, rivers, bays and estuaries, that will accelerate the deployment of living shorelines to reduce erosion, improve habitat, and enhance property values,” said Brooks.

In 2021, the Florida legislature passed a bill, SB 1954, that created the Resilient Florida Grant Program within the Department of Environmental Protection. Earlier this year, the state announced the award of more than $404 million for 113 projects throughout the state through Resilient Florida.

The Department of Environmental Protection has also opened the application portal for the next round of Resilient Florida Planning Grants in Florida’s upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Communities in Charlotte, Collier, Lee, Manatee, and Sarasota counties are receiving more than $2,081,000 combined through the grant program including grant funding for cities including Cape Coral, Sanibel Island, Naples, Sarasota, Venice, North Port, Punta Gorda, Palmetto, Anna Maria Island, and Longboat Key. Sarasota, Manatee and Lee counties also received individual grant awards.

Of Florida’s 67 counties, Miami-Dade is receiving the largest number of individual program grants, while the single largest grant award of $700,000 will fund vulnerability assessments in Pinellas County. Find a complete list of the 98 grant awards announced Tuesday here.

Copyright 2022 WGCU. To see more, visit WGCU.

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