FORT MYERS, FLORIDA — On Monday, First Lady Casey DeSantis toured the hardest-hit areas of southwest Florida. She joined Florida National Guardsmen to deliver food and water to Floridians on Pine Island, distributed meals to first responders, provided resources to the public at Murdock Baptist Church, and visited with Veterans in Port Charlotte.
DeSantis greeted the public at Murdock Baptist Church, where she met with members of the local community who are helping their neighbors in need. Cars wrapped around the church parking lot as she helped provide food and supplies to local residents.
SUPPORTING THE NATIONAL GUARD
Assisting National Guardsmen, DeSantis loaded supplies onto a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and accompanied them to Pine Island to distribute the supplies to residents who are locked on the island due to collapsed bridges.
“Our Florida National Guardsmen and first responders have heroically stepped up to serve the needs of those impacted by Hurricane Ian,” said Casey DeSantis. “While we are working to restore ground transportation and utilities, the National Guard and first responders have supported the community every step of the way. The governor and I are grateful for their service.”
On Sunday, Governor DeSantis directed the Florida Department of Transportation to assist Lee County in expediting emergency repairs to the roads and bridges that connect Pine Island to the mainland. Bridge repairs must be made before residents and crews can access the island for debris removal, recovery efforts, and power restoration. FDOT crews expect to restore access by Saturday, October 8.
VISITING FIRST RESPONDERS
Later on Monday, Casey DeSantis visited the First Responder Base Camp in Lee County to help distribute meals and meet with first responders leading the recovery and response.
While at the base camp, DeSantis announced a website developed by the Florida Division of Emergency Management to assist first responders with mental health needs. The site, administered by State Disaster Recovery Mental Health Coordinator Sara Newhouse, features resources to help first responders navigate the stress and mental health effects of search and recovery.
“I’m proud of Florida’s First Responders and fortunate to have the opportunity to say thank you,” said Casey DeSantis. “They’ve been on the front lines since the moment Hurricane Ian impacted Southwest Florida. They’ve rescued, comforted and strengthened great Floridians devastated by the Hurricane, and I commend them for their dedication and courage.”
While distributing meals, DeSantis expressed gratitude for the brave men and women helping Floridians in need. First responders in Lee County continue to conduct missions based on the needs of those impacted by the storm.
AT THE VETERANS’ NURSING HOME
DeSantis also met with veterans at the Douglas T. Jacobson Veterans’ Nursing Home on Monday. The residents and staff made it through the storm in their facility in Port Charlotte. “Their resilience through the hurricane is inspirational, and I appreciate their warm welcome. They were prepared and fared well, but we stand ready to assist if needed,” she said.
After the visit, DeSantis wrote: “Wishing a very happy belated birthday to U.S. Navy and WWII Veteran Anna Wojtalik who turned 101 years young as the Hurricane hit,” in a Tweet. “You’re the embodiment of strength, resilience, and grace – it was an honor to wish happy birthday to an American hero.”