Hurricane Idalia recovery on track to be fastest in state history

Hurricane Idalia recovery funded faster than any other Florida storm
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 7:51 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV/Gray Florida Capital Bureau) - Recovery from Hurricane Idalia is on track to be the quickest after any storm in Florida’s history.

Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie told a House committee Thursday the state has secured $273 million from the federal government within the first 90 days after the storm. He said that’s the fastest Florida has ever secured that much money that quickly.

Guthrie said the efficient response is thanks to a new Presidential Emergency Declaration the state asks for before a hurricane.

“We almost always try to get a pre-landfall declaration so we know and our sheriffs, police chiefs, fire chiefs, public works, electric companies know, yes, you’re going to incur and getting stuff done, the EM declaration covers that,” Guthrie said.

He said the state is further along in recovery after Hurricane Idalia because Florida has changed its approach before the storm even made landfall.

“We want to put that same emphasis on preparing to respond and put that into preparing to recover. We have gone very, very proactive at the division,” Guthrie said.

Guthrie said there are still some steps in the process that slow recovery, like red tape at the federal government and getting local governments to get what they need to the state.

“We have had situations where we have waited on cities and counties to give us their initial damage assessment for weeks. This is something that’s supposed to be done in the first 72 hours,” Guthrie said.

Guthrie said the goal is to have disasters closed within five to seven years.

People who need help from the federal government have about two weeks left to apply. That deadline is November 29.