LIVE: DeSantis announces $2M to help first responders impacted by Hurricane Ian ‘get back on their feet’


PUNTA GORDA, Fla. (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke in Punta Gorda alongside a variety of law enforcement officials at the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office. The governor announced $2 million to be made available from the Florida Disaster Fund to help first responders and law enforcement get back on their feet from Hurricane Ian damage.

DeSantis said the state was continuing to make progress on recovery efforts. Then, he focused on how over the past couple of weeks, first responders have been “instrumental” in the effort, naming police, fire, and sheriff’s deputies as being in the field working to provide stability from the moment Hurricane Ian hit.

“People do absolutely appreciate that but I think sometimes people don’t necessarily appreciate the fact that you may have a firefighter helping someone get out of their damaged home, that firefighter’s home may have been destroyed too,” DeSantis said. “Police officer’s out there helping you with something that you have had to deal with, but they may be suffering the same or more back at their place. It’s tough knowing that you have to go out there and serve the public, knowing you’ve got a lot of issues to deal with, but you don’t have the luxury to put yourself first, you have to put the people that you’re there to serve first.”

DeSantis said while the state had continued to provide relief, including raising over $40 million for the Florida Disaster Fund, but that the state would be using resources to help in ways that a “FEMA program may not.”

“We noticed how, we talked to the sheriffs, we talked to the people, we know that some deputies had homes flooded, damaged, some totally destroyed, and we wanted to be able to be helpful with that, so the Sheriff’s Association was working on raising money,” DeSantis said. “I know these other groups here, we have the Florida PBA, we gave the Florida Fraternal Order of Police, and we have the Florida Professional Firefighters Association, all have had members that have been impacted in one way or another. All of them have members whose homes were destroyed entirely.”

The governor announced that $2 million would be made available to help first responders “get back on their feet” with funding from the Florida Disaster Fund going to the charitable arms for the mentioned organizations. Each recipient would get $500,000 to distribute to their members in need.

DeSantis said more assistance was coming, then presented the four checks to the organization leaders before law enforcement officers spoke.

Watch the event live on WFLA.com and the WFLA Facebook Page.

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