Holmes and Washington among rural counties awarded hurricane recovery funds

Holmes and Washington counties were among stops made by Governor Ron DeSantis when he visited rural areas of Northwest Florida on Thursday.

DeSantis held a press conference in both counties to announce $12 million for communities impacted by Hurricane Michael. These funds cover the local match portion of mitigation awards to support disaster readiness and support recovery efforts.

“Today, I was grateful for the opportunity to award $12 million across the Panhandle to continue supporting the continuing recovery and community resiliency efforts,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “We will continue to look for ways to assist our rural communities rebuild stronger than before and we recognize that a storm of the magnitude of Hurricane Michael requires a long-term commitment.”

In Washington County, the Governor announced that more than $8.8 million has been awarded for 32 projects in 7 different counties through the Department of Economic Opportunity’s (DEO) Rebuild Florida Hazard Mitigation Grant Match Program. The program provides the 25 percent funding match that communities need in order to receive FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program Funds. Without the DEO Hazard Mitigation Grant Match Program, many of the small Panhandle cities would not be able to afford the match funding needed.

Specifically for Washington County, that means that the more than 20 home remaining on the county’s “buy out” will soon be purchased and closed within the next 90 days. That effort is made possible with $912,334 appropriated to Washington County to acquire, demolish, and convert 19 residential properties in flood-prone areas to greenspace to mitigate recurrent flood losses.

In Holmes County, the Governor announced that DEO will be awarding $3.2 million to the Capital Area Community Action Agency and the Tri-County Community Council through the Community Services Block Grant Disaster Relief Supplemental Funding. This funding will enable these organizations to support personal recovery efforts of low-income residents impacted by Hurricane Michael. These efforts include providing temporary housing, transportation, moving services, HVAC installations, furniture replacement and other services. Additionally, the Governor directed FDEM to approve Holmes County’s request for a waiver of the local match requirements for federal assistance related to Hurricane Sally, saving the county millions of dollars as they move forward with projects.

The Tri-County Community Council will provide services for Bay, Holmes, Jackson, and Washington Counties.

“On his first official day in office, Governor Ron DeSantis was on the ground in the Florida Panhandle surveying the damage caused by Hurricane Michael and committing vital resources to help our communities recover from this historic storm,” said CFO Jimmy Patronis. “When Michael made landfall as a Category 5 storm, 160 mile per hour winds and rain devastated towns along the coast and in rural parts of the state causing billions of dollars of damage. I’m proud that now over three years later, the Governor has not forgotten about the families and businesses impacted by this massive storm and continues to provide the assistance needed to aid in rebuilding the Panhandle. Thank you to Governor DeSantis and DEO Secretary Dane Eagle for their unwavering support of Hurricane Michael recovery.”

“Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership and through our partnership with DEO, we’ve made great strides in rebuilding Florida’s Panhandle since Hurricane Michael,” said Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie. “These mitigation projects play a critical role in creating resilient communities and lessening the impacts of future disasters. While we still have a lot of work to do, today’s announcements are great progress toward long-term recovery efforts in our Northwest Florida communities and ensuring they’re better prepared for future storms.”