Relief money for Hurricane Irma finally reaching citrus growers

Finally, the long-awaited relief money to help Florida's citrus growers recover from Hurricane Irma is coming available.

At a Florida Senate appropriations committee meeting Wednesday, Feb. 6, Jared Moskowitz, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said before he took charge of the division last month only $3 million had been awarded from a $343 million federal block grant for the citrus industry.

Over the past three weeks, he said, another $14 million in grants has been handed out. "We are looking at everything to try to speed up the process," Moskowitz said.

The federal government shutdown slowed the grant process, but there has been another holdup caused by a state policy that requires project worksheets to be "100 percent audited" before money can "go out the door" - a policy Moskowitz said he'll change.

In the next three to four weeks, he expects to announce changes to the auditing process designed to get more money out quicker.

"We're going to go back to doing what works, and what the model is, and what FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) does."

Hurricane Irma walloped citrus crops across Florida when it made landfall in September 2017. Groves in Southwest Florida were hit especially hard.


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