The City of Fort Myers has issued a local state of emergency due to water problems in Southwest Florida.
The issue was discussed by city council members Monday when Mayor Randy Henderson brought up the matter. It was passed unanimously.
“We would have probably done it sooner, but were consistent with our governor and our county,” Fort Myers Mayor Randall Henderson Jr. said.
If you are confused by what a state of emergency is and why it has been declared so frequently in the last couple months, you are not alone.
Hello SWFL talked with the Florida state emergency operations center. It said state of emergencies are issued for individual events rather than a broad topic, which explains why we have so many declarations going on at once. Each declaration is for a specific problem that officials want to fix.
A governor, city or county can declare a state of emergency when they believe an event is so damaging that in requires additional state or federal funding.
“They wanted to upgrade the emergency to include things like funding for businesses and individuals that have fallen on economic issues,” Larry Kiker, the district 3 commissioner, said.
“Obviously we didn’t create this mess,” District 2 Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass said referring to the environmental damages that have had a drastic effect on the SWFL economy “but we’re asking the state and federal government to help us clean it up.”
Lee County is already under a state of emergency.
Charlotte County also recently declared a local state of emergency over red tide to help businesses. Governor Rick Scott issued a state of emergency over blue-green algae for Southwest Florida in July, which expires in early September. Scott also declared a state of emergency due to red tide for seven counties on Florida’s west coast.
Most recently, Governor Rick Scott requested that the U.S. Small Business Administration issue an Economic Injury Disaster Declaration. The Economic Injury Disaster Declaration helps Florida businesses that are being impacted by algae blooms.
These businesses, which include several in SWFL, can apply and obtain low interest loans to help mitigate damages caused by the algae blooms.
Additional reporting by Jalyn Henderson