Lee County Recovery Task Force gets feedback from Lehigh Acres for Hurricane Ian recovery plans
Hurricane Ian caused an estimated $7.3 billion in damage to residential and commercial structures alone and is poised to be named the third-largest storm in U.S. history.
As an effort to better unify and calculate the needs of various areas of Lee County following Ian, the ResilientLee & Recovery Task Force was created.
The task force is composed of eight branches overseen by community experts to review, research, and analyze needs to rebuild Lee County.
Branches include infrastructure, housing, health and social services, and also consider cultural resources.
Tessa LeSage, director of the FutureMakers Coalition at the Collaboratory in downtown Fort Myers, led the Lehigh Acres town hall. She says forgetting about tourism can spell trouble for Lee County’s economy.
“If the only reason people come here is for our beaches, and the beaches are down, then we have a problem," said LeSage. "So, just like diversifying the economy, we need to diversify our cultural resources.”
Tourism employs one out of five people in Lee County and visitors spend more than $4 billion while visiting, according to the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau.
Since damages caused by Ian vary throughout the county, the first objective of the task force is to hold widespread town halls to get feedback from residents about what priorities to consider going forward.
Katie Heck, Public Relations Officer for the Lehigh Acres Fire Control & Rescue District said a lack of infrastructure strained their department during Ian.
“In East Lee County, even though we have our own branch of the EOC out here, we don't really have a secure place to be during a storm,” said Heck.
Lehigh Acres residents also communicated a lack of transportation and need for better public transport to the task force.
To participate or learn more about future town halls, visit Resilientlee.com. There is also a survey that can be filled out online here.
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