In an effort to save Florida’s $9 billion citrus industry and speed-up work on Herbert Hoover Dike, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida on Tuesday called on Senate leaders to include additional disaster assistance for Florida in a government spending bill the chamber is expected to take up this week.
Nelson made the request in a letter he sent today to U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, in which he urged the leaders to provide funding for several important projects aimed at helping Florida recover, including:
· Funding to help Florida’s citrus growers. Florida’s citrus industry sustained more than $760 million in losses due to the storm. USDA estimates Florida’s citrus industry will harvest 46 million boxes of citrus this year, less than 25 percent of the nearly 204 million boxes harvested in Florida ten years ago.
· Funding to help Florida schools. More than 12,000 students, who evacuated from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the wake of the storms, have now enrolled in schools around Florida. The sudden influx of new students is putting a strain on some Florida schools as they struggle to accommodate the additional students with the limited budgets and resources they have available.
· Funding to complete work on the Herbert Hoover Dike. Herbert Hoover Dike protects thousands of Floridians who live around Lake Okeechobee from the threat of catastrophic flooding. The Army Corps of Engineers says it needs approximately $200 million per year, for the next four years, to finish work on the dike by 2022.
A copy of Nelson’s letter is here.