Wausau, Vernon among Panhandle communities to receive DEO funding

Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday announced more than $91 million in funding to Panhandle communities, with more than $2.4 million being allocated in Washington County.

“I’ve said from the beginning that recovery from Hurricane Michael would be a long-term process,” said Gov. DeSantis. “Michael has forever left a mark on Panhandle communities, but through the funding provided, we can ensure these communities are stronger and better equipped for the future.”

The funds, which support a variety of improvement projects for wastewater and sanitary sewer, potable water, and stormwater systems, are granted through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s (DEO) Rebuild Florida Mitigation General Infrastructure Program.

The City of Vernon will receive $1,674,622 to install emergency generators and communications systems to the city’s ten lift stations. This will include the installation of a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system at stations to provide for faster response to problems.

The Town of Wausau is set to receive separate allocations for infrastructure projects. $407,542 will be used to replace the storm water drainage culvert system and restore the damaged and undermined pavement and road base on 2nd Avenue. Another $330,110 will be used to support potable water system hardening and resiliency at the Possum Palace. This includes a well project at the site that will upgrade the pump with a submersible pump and replace the piping that runs to the elevated storage tank generator.

“On behalf of the Town Council and people of Wausau, we are so glad for these monies,” said Wausau Mayor Roger Hagan. “As the Governor so aptly said, the recovery has been long and is still not over; however, the help these monies give us will allow us not only recover in part, but will also allow us to strengthen and be better prepared if we ever face this kind of disaster again.”

“The cross-drainage apparatus has long since not been able to handle the overflow from recent years,” he added. “This will allow us to replace the structure with a bridge or large box culvert, elevate the structure, and address the drainage on one of the most used streets in our town. The well money will allow us to replace an outdated system, install a submersible pump, and an appropriately sized emergency operator. During Michael, we had to keep and almost 24 hour a day for weeks a maintenance effort to keep the town’s water supply operational. This will help guarantee a safe, healthful, water supply in future events. The Town Council say Thank You Governor DeSantis.”

“More than three years since Hurricane Michael devastated the Florida Panhandle, Governor Ron DeSantis continues to make good on his promise to support these communities with vital resources to recover from this historic storm,” said Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis. “This additional $91 million in recovery funding will go a very long way in improving the infrastructure needed to support the families and businesses impacted by Hurricane Michael. Thank you to Governor DeSantis and DEO Secretary Dane Eagle for their continued support of Hurricane Michael recovery.”

Rebuild Florida is administered by DEO and allows local governments to develop large-scale infrastructure projects that aid communities in making them more resilient against future disasters.

Rebuild Florida uses federal funding for Florida’s long-term recovery efforts from the devastating impacts of natural disasters.