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March 19,2019 - Bill would fund Charlotte County's first ever storm shelter
NBC-2.com

There are currently no Red Cross-approved storm shelters in Charlotte County.

Wednesday, February 27th 2019, 5:43 PM EST by Claire Lavezzorio

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. – There are currently no Red Cross-approved storm shelters in Charlotte County.

That deficit makes it very difficult for some people who can’t leave the area to find a safe place during hurricane season.

“We need a shelter here because there are a lot of people that cannot leave,” said Susan McDonald of Punta Gorda.

Luckily, a solution to fill the deficit is in sight.

Representative Michael Grant (R) is bringing a bill to the House floor next week asking the state for $8 million to build the county’s first shelter.

“My hope is that I’ll be working with the legislative delegations in Lee, Collier, Charlotte and Sarasota Counties as well as some of the interior counties to make a case in the legislature that we need this not just for Charlotte, but for the region,” said Grant.

And Babcock Ranch is in on the project along with Florida Power and Light.

Lucienne Pears, who’s in charge of Economic and Business Development for Babcock said the ranch sits 25 feet above sea level unlike most areas of Charlotte County.

“We have an ethos or culture here at Babcock Ranch to be a part of the solution so we can provide a quality of life for people,” Pears said.

And it has the space to develop. So much so, FPL is committing $3 million to the project.

The entire cost sits at $19.7 million.

When the shelter is not used as emergency housing, Babcock Ranch plans on using it to promote health and wellness as a field house.

If the bill is approved, it will take effect in July 2019.

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