Launched in February 2023, the Recovery Task Force (RTF) was established to serve as an advisory committee to the Lee Board of County Commissioners to inform the region’s response and recovery to the devastating impact of Hurricane Ian in September 2022.
The Task Force is comprised of 13 leaders from across the county, including mayors of affected municipal jurisdictions, senior representatives from the school district, public safety entities, and other public agencies. Similar to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Disaster Recovery Framework, the RTF consists of eight branches that bring together public, private, and non-profit sector subject matter experts (SMEs) to support key areas of recovery.
The primary objective of the RTF is to develop the ResilientLee Recovery and Resilience Plan (Plan) to serve as a roadmap for the Lee Board of County Commissioners to implement recovery measures throughout the region.
The Plan will identify proven as well as propose new innovative and resilient solutions to community challenges aligning resources, partners, and priorities. Socially vulnerable populations are traditionally underrepresented, and the Plan will work to identify and incorporate these groups throughout the region.
In March 2023, the U.S. Congress through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that Lee County will receive $1.1B from the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) grant to support unmet recovery needs throughout the region. Lee County is responsible for oversight and administration of the funds in accordance with federal requirements.
Lee County, as a requirement of CDBG-DR funding, is required to prepare and submit for approval to HUD, an ‘Action Plan’ that describes how and where the grant funds will be used to address remaining unmet needs. The Action plan must be submitted to HUD by September 20, 2023. The RTF’s ResilientLee Recovery and Resilience Plan will serve as a guide for county leadership to allocate resources to address the areas of greatest need. The announcement by HUD is an encouraging development and key component of the resources the county will use to restore and rebuild the community.
The RTF received significant community input between March and May 2023, obtaining direction on recovery priorities from public, private, and community stakeholders. Community engagement was conducted through an online survey, 17 community Town Halls, and a series of four in-person public Workshops.
Understanding that the successful development of the Plan requires robust stakeholder participation, the RTF will conduct additional community engagement in September 2023. Detailed information will be communicated to the public over the coming months.
While developing the Plan, the RTF will continue to identify additional funding sources, in addition to the CDBG-DR funding. Community feedback enhances the RTF’s ability to align available funding sources with recovery activities focused on the areas of greatest need. Upon completion, the ResilientLee Recovery and Resilience Plan will be presented to the Lee Board of County Commissioners for final consideration at a regularly scheduled Board meeting in February 2024.