The first Unite Florida RV was delivered to Saint James City over the weekend giving people what they need after Hurricane Ian.
It was given by the state to Courtney Slavens and her family in Bokeelia.
Slavens and her family were denied a trailer by FEMA.
For Slavens and her family, it’s an astonishing and grateful moment because of how Ian changed their lives.
The Unite Florida RV given to Courtney Slavens. CREDIT: WINK News
Their home for the past 18 years was left in unlivable conditions, filled with mold and water by the storm.
Leaving her home was never what she wanted to do.
And at this point, with the Unite Florida RV, she can stay put while waiting for everything to get fixed.
“That’s a lot of memories in our home. But you know, this community is strong,” Slavens said.
While Slaven acknowledged the community’s strength, Slavens’s will, grit, and resolution are evidently hurricane-proof.
“Don’t plan to go anywhere. After this either. We plan to rebuild and settle right here again,” Slavens said.
Slavens applied for FEMA assistance two months ago and is yet to hear back.
Part of Slavens home damaged by Hurricane Ian. CREDIT: WINK News
In a last-ditch effort, she took a chance on the first-of-its-kind, a state-led program called, Unite Florida.
“Housing initiative to provide travel trailers and recreational vehicles to impacted Floridians who may not be eligible for FEMA us direct housing program,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said.
Or whose insurance won’t cover temporary housing. Those are the guidelines DeSantis laid out when he launched Unite Florida in Nov.
“After a while, you start to get down a little bit you think things are now… We’re gonna move and then all of a sudden … they do and that’s huge,” Slavens said.
Two weeks after applying, Slavens has a beautiful RV sitting on her front lawn.
Three beds, wood floors, a kitchen with a full-size fridge, and plenty of space for Slavens’s whole family.
And Slavens did have a piece of advice for people waiting on FEMA for help and considering trying Unite Florida.
“Do it. Yeah, the process is not hard. If you need help give them a call. Somebody could walk you through it. It was not hard,” Slavens said.
The state said as a shorter-term sheltering solution they’re prioritizing the program for those who have not yet qualified for FEMA’s Direct Housing Program.
But did say, there is no restriction on which people can apply to Unite Florida.