DeSantis visits the Keys to renew commitment to Hurricane Irma recovery

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at Coast Guard Station Marathon in the Florida Keys on Tuesday, April 16, 2019.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at Coast Guard Station Marathon in the Florida Keys on Tuesday, April 16, 2019.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis visited the Florida Keys on Tuesday to meet with local leaders and to pledge state support for the island chain as it continues to recover from Hurricane Irma almost two years after the Category 4 storm struck here.

“We want to make sure you’re back and stronger than ever,” DeSantis said during a news conference at Coast Guard Station Marathon. “Let’s hope we get a little bit of a break this hurricane season.”

DeSantis did not go into deep detail on how the state plans to help the Keys, but he mentioned more money is on its way to clean up the archipelago’s canal system, still littered with debris that Irma left behind.

The Republican governor also touched on the $90 million in federal Housing and Urban Development money that was approved for the Keys specifically through a state-run program called Rebuild Florida. Residents with low or medium incomes whose homes were badly damaged during Irma can apply for housing repair money through the program.

As of April, more than 1,250 households have registered for Rebuild Florida funds, and 533 have “been prioritized and provided applications,” according to Monroe County’s website.

Statewide, $616 million has been approved through Rebuild Florida for Hurricane Irma recovery projects.

This was DeSantis’ first official visit to the Keys as governor. He won the 2018 election in Monroe County with more than 51 percent of the vote over Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

This story will be updated.

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