In Florida, disaster recovery operations are handled by its counties. Much like the county, a small percentage of recovery funding comes from the local government. But municipalities carry certain responsibilities and advantages with disaster recovery.
Disaster recovery in Florida flows from the state to the county, along with FEMA and state disaster recovery funds. The county is the disaster recovery operations center or emergency operations center. Municipalities within a given county have a seat in the emergency operations center for the dispatching of equipment and communication. The decisions are made at the state and county level. Whether a community is incorporated or not, disaster recovery dollars are distributed to the area through the county.
After Hurricane Ian, town leaders of Fort Myers Beach shared that they were in a unique position. Having lost so many of the mid-century structures that gave their town its charm, their municipality could guide the rebuilding of the community in a way that matches the character they want. They would not have the same voice or control over their own destiny if they were not a municipality. They also joined other nearby cities to petition the state for additional funds, an opportunity only available to municipalities.
This point is apparent when we look at Perdido Key and still see remnants of structures from Hurricane Ivan. With a local voice, focused local governance, and local vision, rebuilding their community is much easier than it would be as an unincorporated county.