Rebuild Florida funding funneled to panhandle municipalities for hurricane resilience

On the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Michael devastating the panhandle, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Monday that over $126 million has been awarded to communities impacted by the storm through the Department of Economic OpportunityÂ’s (DEO) Rebuild Florida Program.

Chipley, Vernon and Wausau collectively received more than $6.2 million of those funds.

The City of Chipley will use $2,936,950 in funding to assist with ditch cleaning, rehabilitation, storm water retention and relief for flooding of the sewer system.

“We are most appreciative of this financial award that has been handed over to the City of Chipley for these needed improvements,” said Chipley Mayor Tracy Andrews.

After rapidly intensifying in the gulf, Hurricane Michael made landfall as the first recorded Category 5 storm to hit FloridaÂ’s panhandle Oct. 10, 2018, with maximum sustained winds of 160 mph. The coastline between Mexico Beach and Panama City was obliterated, and communities further north suffered lasting damage.

The Rebuild Florida General Infrastructure Repair program provides funding for local governments to strategically rebuild and harden infrastructure in order to prevent or mitigate losses from future disasters.

DeSantis said in a press release that the state will continue to be unwavering in its long-term commitment to rebuilding Southwest Florida after Hurricane Ian just as it has in Northwest Florida with the recovery of Hurricane Michael over the past four years.

The City of Vernon will receive $2,265,691 in funding that will be used to harden and improve the resiliency of the sanitary sewer systemÂ’s wastewater treatment plant and effluent disposal facilities, as well as the cityÂ’s entire sanitary sewer collection system.

“The City of Vernon is eternally grateful to be awarded this funding,” said Vernon City Clerk Rose Capezzera. “We will be able to improve our wastewater treatment plant for our residents and make the future look a little brighter.”

Roads and drainage have been a widespread issue that the Town of Wausau feels deeply. The $1,044,928 in funding will be used to pave Cora Lane and Oid Drive, as well as improve the drainage system surrounding them.

“Wausau is so blessed to have received this funding from Gov. DeSantis,” said Wausau Town Clerk Margaret Riley. “These improvements are badly needed, and we cannot thank our governor enough. Coming back from Michael has been a hardship, one that is made a little easier with help from the state.”