Fort Myers Beach fire among Hurricane Ian aid, governor announces

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One year after Hurricane Ian caused irreparable damage to communities across Southwest Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced more financial aid headed to help first responders, including those in Fort Myers Beach, Captiva and Sanibel islands.

On Friday, DeSantis approved $338 million to support the recovery of communities impacted by Hurricane Ian, including $14 million to assist the Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District with rebuilding and recovery.

Town officials said Fire Station 31 was damaged beyond repair by Ian's "devastating" storm-surge and wind effects. Officials said $9 million will be allocated to relocating and replacing the station.

Through tax rebates in the current year and reduced valuations for the upcoming year, the fire district has experienced losses in revenue of approximately $7.5 million, officials said.

The remaining $5 million awarded by DeSantis will offset the reduction in revenue for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 budget years.

The state funds headed to Southwest Florida will assist with ongoing hurricane repairs and recovery efforts for schools, sheriff's offices, fire stations, parks, recreation centers and roads, among others, DeSantis' office said in a news release.

In February, another of the beneficiaries, Sanibel Fire, announced they were receiving a temporary fire station.

Sanibel Fire Chief Kevin Barbot said they had to get a temporary housing structure for firefighters due to Hurricane Ian damage. He said their designer architects are about 60% done with the projects.

He said there are to aspects to the $8 million they've received in state funding — $2 million cover revenue replacement, while the counterpart covers reconstruction of their damaged fire station.

Barbot called the funding a "sigh of relief."

"Right now, we need to go to the city of Sanibel and get some variance because of the height restrictions and the height of the building, which we'll work through with the city," Barbot said, adding the next step is to go to permitting.

Barbot estimated demolition of the building between late January and early February.

"Then from there, we're estimating an additional 24 months of construction time," he said. He said they've remained on their estimated timeline and that this year's storms haven't affected the estimates.

Firefighters assigned to the affected station will remain in the trailer for between two and three years, Barbot said.

DeSantis' office said funding highlights include:

  • $14 million to the Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District.

  • $8 million to Sanibel Fire and Rescue District.

  • $350,000 to Captiva Fire Control District.

Tomas Rodriguez is a Breaking/Live News Reporter for the Naples Daily News and The News-Press. You can reach Tomas at or 772-333-5501. Connect with him on Threads @tomasfrobeltran, Instagram @tomasfrobeltran, Facebook @tomasrodrigueznews and Twitter @TomasFRoBeltran.

This article originally appeared on Naples Daily News: More aid headed to SWFL after Ian: Gov. DeSantis OKs millions