Florida: Controversy over cleanup agreements after Hurricane Ian

It has been a month since Hurricane Ian tore through parts of Southwest Florida. Now, the multi-million dollar cleaning contracts are generating new storms.

Contractors removing debris and making repairs related to damage from the Category 4 storm are fighting over government contracts that could be worth tens of millions of tax dollars. The skirmishes provide a preview of potential fights for local, state and federal funds to be doled out in the coming months to help Southwest Florida get back on its feet.

An example of this is the recent and controversial expansion of an onshore debris removal contract that had been put out to bid long before the hurricane. Coincidentally, the contract was awarded to the Crowder-Gulf Joint Venture just days after Ian’s eye made landfall in Cayo Costa State Park on September 28.

In response to the extensive damage caused by the hurricane, Lee County officials expanded the scope of the contract on October 2 to include waterways and private property.

The rapid removal of downed trees, blown-off roof shingles, and crushed drywall is one of the most challenging and important parts of hurricane recovery. County officials want the work done quickly, as local governments receive a direct payment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the cost of debris collected within 60 days of a storm.

Officials estimate Lee County has 1.8 million cubic yards (1.37 million cubic meters) of storm-related debris.

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Mike Schneider is at: https://twitter.com/MikeSchneiderHPD

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