Florida Disaster Fund raises more than $20 million in 48 hours after launch

Within 48 hours of its activation, The Florida Disaster Fund has raised more than $20 million in donations for the communities that experienced Hurricane Ian’s destruction, First Lady Casey DeSantis announced Saturday.

Major donations have poured in from 52 different corporations and individuals across the state and nation, including Microsoft, UnitedHealth and Goldman Sachs, to the state’s official private fund established specifically for Hurricane Ian victims. In kind donations are going to make life easier for those who are now facing life with little more than the clothes on their backs and what they could stuff in their cars.

DeSantis said that the money is already at work at ground zero of Ian’s wreckage.

“Raising more than $20 million in 48 hours for The Florida Disaster Fund is a testament to the generosity and compassion from people across Florida and the country,” DeSantis said. “We are incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support for Florida.”

From moving belongings to getting refreshments, companies are lending a hand.

Telecommunications companies are trying to make it easier in various ways for storm victims to stay connected. Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile are all chipping in unlimited talk, text and data for customers in affected zip codes for varying periods of time.

T-Mobile is also sending out four community support trucks that will be loaded with supplies like charters, cords and cell phones along with the facilities to charge up to 80 phones at a time. And Xfinity – Comcast opened WiFi hotspots in Central, north and Southwest Florida, along with the Panhandle that are free for anyone to use. Find details for using it here. Charter Communications has done the same.

Hospitality companies such as Expedia and Rosen Hotels & Resorts are making it easier for people to find emergency accommodations. Rosen is offering a distressed rate for those fleeing the storm. Expedia is encouraging its partners to waive pet and cancellation fees. And, in partnership with VISIT Florida, Expedia put up a portal to make it easier to find places in Florida to stay.

In addition to the $500,000 cash donation to The Florida Disaster Fund, Wawa Convenience Stores & Gas Stations is providing free coffee and fountain drinks to all first responders in Florida.

And U-Haul is offering 30 free days of storage and U-Box container storage at 43 locations listed from Coconut Creek to Jacksonville, west to Fort Walton Beach.

In a Fort Myers news conference, Gov. Ron DeSantis said he was “really proud” of the First Lady’s efforts.

“We’re really excited to be able to help folks in a variety of ways,” he said.

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