TALLAHASSEE — Nearly $794 million in low-interest loans have been approved to more than 11,000 individuals whose homes or businesses were damaged by Hurricane Ian, newly released data shows.
Federal officials project the amount of federal aid in loans will rise above $1 billion.
More than half the money approved through the Small Business Administration, which oversees disaster loans, went to Lee County, one of the hardest hit by the historic storm.
Individuals and businesses in Lee got more than $412 million, or 52% of all the SBA loan dollars. The second-highest went to Charlotte ($109 million) followed by Sarasota ($72 million), Volusia ($50 million) and Collier ($45 million).
Only those with homes or businesses in the 26 counties designated as federal disaster areas are eligible for the low-interest loans from the SBA. The loan money can be used by homeowners, renters and business owners for Ian-related damages.
Lee County, especially Fort Myers Beach and its other barrier islands, bore the brunt of Ian's assault on Florida's coastline. The storm, a Category 4 when it made landfall Sept. 28 at 3:05 p.m. near Cayo Costa, carried 150 mph winds and a towering storm surge tearing through Fort Myers Beach's town center.
The massive storm pummeled the state with crushing storm surge, obliterating wind speeds and torrential rainfall, leaving a swath of devastation from the southwestern coast across the I-4 corridor.
The hurricane, the fifth-most powerful to ever hit the U.S., left countless homes and businesses wrecked or underwater and nearly 2.7 million people without power.
In all, more than $2.35 billion in federal grants, disaster loans and flood insurance payments has been provided to the state of Florida and households to help survivors jumpstart their recovery after Hurricane Ian, the Federal Emergency Management Agency reported Monday.
USA TODAY Network-Florida government accountability reporter Douglas Soule is based in Tallahassee, Fla. He can be reached at [email protected]. Twitter: @DouglasSoule
Sergio Bustos is Enterprise/Politics Editor for Florida's Gannett/USA TODAY Network. He's based in South Florida. Email: [email protected]