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Temporary housing after Ian: A tour inside FEMA's housing units at the Edison Grande

Posted at 10:23 PM, Feb 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-10 22:23:50-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — For the first time in months, Southwest Florida families who were forced out because of Hurricane Ian are being let in to new homes.

Two different locations serving similar purposes— one in Fort Myers and another in Cape Coral.

FEMA invited us to come along to see the new apartments that will welcome families into new homes for the first time after Ian.

"We pay all of the expenses and they just have to live here and keep it clean.”

18 stories above the Caloosahatchee River, temporary housing is being provided for families impacted by Hurricane Ian.

“We've been working for the last month to start that," says Keith Denning, Deputy Federal Coordinating Officer with FEMA. "We obtained the units about a month ago and it's taken some time to prepare them.”

Former hotel rooms turned into temporary housing units.

"For somebody that lives in hotels for months out of the year, it's comparable to some of the things that I would stay in,” said Denning.

Denning says the agency is leasing 40 units at the Edison Grande. A total of 333 temporary housing units have been leased elsewhere throughout Southwest Florida, with roughy 227 of them being in Lee County.

"As they registered months ago, they were then called once we looked to see what their housing needs might be," he says. "They were called and we confirmed with them the size of their family and their housing needs. Through that process we then come up with options for them and this may be one of the options that they are offered.”

An option that includes a kitchen, living room, bedroom and one bathroom. Not to mention those amenities belonging to the Edison Grande like its swimming pool, fitness facility, and more.

"In here, I believe we have one bedroom. In some of the other buildings that we're leasing, I believe they have two bedrooms.”

Other housing options FEMA is providing— of course— includes trailers. And there is a timeline for just how long families can stay.

"We check with the family once or twice a month to see how they're progressing in their permanent housing plan," says Denning. "If their home is prepared earlier than that, they can then vacate the unit and we may find another family to put in there.”

FEMA tells us they started with a little more than 3,000 families that needed housing in Florida. A number they hope to keep decreasing with the help of units like these.

"We're down to about 2,400 families right now with that. With an agreement like this with the Edison Grande, we hope to— obviously— lessen that number.”