DEO Press Releases

On Eve of Hurricane Michael’s Two-Year Anniversary, Governor Ron DeSantis Highlights State of Florida’s Commitment to Northwest Florida

Oct 09, 2020

Tallahassee, Fla. – Today, on the eve of the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Michael’s historic landfall, Governor Ron DeSantis highlights the state of Florida’s milestones that have been brought to communities still recovering from Hurricane Michael.

 “On my first day in office as Governor I committed to the people of Northwest Florida that helping them recover from Hurricane Michael would be a top priority,” said Governor DeSantis. “Today, that commitment remains as strong as ever. We will continue working as hard as we can to help all affected communities rebuild stronger than ever before.”

 The milestones the state of Florida has achieved over the past year for Hurricane Michael recovery include efforts from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), the Division of Emergency Management (FDEM), the Florida Department of Transportation (DOT) and many others.

 “Governor DeSantis promised relief to communities who were impacted by Hurricane Michael and it is evident he stood by his promise,” said Dane Eagle, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. “DEO has been a proactive partner in Northwest Florida helping communities recover from the devastating impacts caused by Hurricane Michael, and I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished. Floridians are resilient, and through Rebuild Florida, we will ensure communities are better equipped to handle future storms.”

Department of Economic Opportunity Milestones:

 National Dislocated Worker Grant: DEO has been awarded an additional $7.3 million in federal funding through the National Dislocated Worker Grant. This grant, administered by DEO, provides Floridians temporary employment to assist with cleanup, recovery, and humanitarian efforts in areas impacted by Hurricane Michael.  With this additional funding, more than $27 million has been provided to the local workforce development boards in the impacted communities.

 Rural Infrastructure Fund Program: In January, Governor DeSantis announced more than $5.4 million in funding for infrastructure projects in 15 rural communities in Northwest Florida that were affected by Hurricane Michael.  Click here for more details.

Community Services Block Grant Disaster Relief Supplemental: DEO has been awarded $6.4 million in federal funds through the Florida Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) – Disaster Relief Supplemental Funds. This grant, administered by DEO, will complement other recovery efforts currently underway by addressing the unmet basic needs of low-income Floridians who were impacted by Hurricane Michael. With this additional funding, DEO is working with Capital Area Community Action Agency, Suwannee River Economic Council and Tri-County Community Action Council in the impacted area to continue to support Hurricane Michael survivors’ ongoing personal recovery efforts.

 Rebuild Florida Programs: DEO has also launched several Rebuild Florida programs for Hurricane Michael-impacted communities. Rebuild Florida uses federal funding for Florida’s long-term recovery efforts from the devastating impacts of natural disasters. The funds are allocated through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program. In Florida, CDBG-DR funds are administered through the Rebuild Florida program.

 This year, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) has launched the following Rebuild Florida programs to Hurricane Michael-impacted communities:

  • Rebuild Florida Voluntary Home Buyout Program (Application cycle closes on November 30, 2020) - Designed to encourage risk reduction through the purchase of residential property in high flood-risk areas to help reduce the impact of future disasters.
  • Rebuild Florida General Infrastructure Repair Program (Application cycle closes on November 30, 2020) - Designed to fund infrastructure restoration and improvement projects in communities impacted by Hurricane Michael.

Other infrastructure activities include funds allocated for the reconstruction of the Calhoun-Liberty Hospital, a designated Critical Access Hospital (CAH), which sustained significant damage from Hurricane Michael.

 Additionally, DEO will leverage CDBG-DR funds to provide local match funding to local communities for the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s (FDEM) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) to fortify infrastructure projects with resiliency measures

  • Rebuild Florida Workforce Recovery Training Program (Application cycle closes on December 15, 2020) - Designed to provide funding opportunities for local workforce development boards, educational institutions and technical centers located in the communities most impacted by Hurricane Michael to train new workers in construction trades.

In addition to the launch of these Rebuild Florida programs, DEO has made available $1 million in funding to provide Technical Assistance to Fiscally Constrained Counties that were impacted by Hurricane Michael. The funding is designed to help Fiscally Constrained Counties access Rebuild Florida’s long-term disaster recovery programs by providing assistance with application development, including project identification, project cost determination and scope of work preparation.

 Rebuild Florida Business Loan Fund - To date, more than $2.4 million in loan funds have been disbursed to Florida small businesses. The Rebuild Florida Business Loan Fund has $50 million available in state and federal funds that are administered by DEO in partnership with the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to target industries identified by the state as key strategic markets for future growth and to focus on creating and enhancing the diversification and resiliency of Florida’s economy. Additional information on the Rebuild Florida Business Loan Fund and how businesses can apply is available on Rebuild Florida’s Business Recovery webpage.

 Division of Emergency Management Milestones 

In January 2019, FDEM announced that, under the leadership of Governor DeSantis, the Division was putting in place an expedited process to accelerate funding for Northwest Florida communities impacted by Hurricane Michael. Since activating this expedited process, the Division has paid out more than $832 million for Hurricane Michael recovery and more than $3 billion across all disasters.

“When Hurricane Michael made landfall in Northwest Florida as a Category 5, it devastated thousands of Floridians, but we know the people of the Panhandle are resilient,” said FDEM Director Jared Moskowitz. “I’m proud of the Division’s work to do our part to get these hard-working people back on their feet, including paying out more than $832 million in recovery funding.  I can promise you that we will not slow down until this community has rebuilt stronger than ever before.”

 To provide mental health services in the Panhandle following Hurricane Michael, the Division hired the first Disaster Recovery Mental Health Coordinator in Florida history. By prioritizing mental health recovery, the state secured $2.3 million in federal funding for Project HOPE in the region, the installation of telehealth portals in 63 public schools through six counties, and an award of $1.25 million by the Department of Education to Bay County for the expansion of licensed school social workers and paraprofessionals. The Division also secured 100 travel trailers from FEMA, at no cost to the state, to provide relief for those looking for housing.

 To support timber producers impacted by Hurricane Michael, FDEM and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services are administering $380 million in timber recovery funding made available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The deadline to register for this funding is Friday, November 20. For more information about the Timber Recovery Block Grant Program, please visit floridadisaster.org/timber.

The Division secured $25 million through the Hurricane Michael State Recovery Grant Program and distributed funding through that program to support counties and cities in their recovery. The grant funding is being used for projects that support hurricane repair and recovery related to Hurricane Michael. More information can be found here.

 Department of Transportation Milestones

 In the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) removed more than 21 million cubic yards of debris, repaired U.S. 98 in Bay and Gulf counties, replaced damaged signs and wildlife fencing along I-10, and repaired shoulders, ditches and backslopes to improve drainage along the state highway system. In addition, FDOT broke ground on the flyover bridge at the main gate of Tyndall Air Force Base at the intersection of U.S. 98 (Tyndall Parkway) and Airey Avenue/Tyndall Drive in Bay County in November 2019. The $19.9 million design-build project, which is set to be complete next year, consists of an overpass to elevate the two U.S. 98 travel lanes above the Airey Avenue/Tyndall Drive main entrance to the base and will improve access to the base.

 “Since Hurricane Michael, the department has remained dedicated to supporting recovery efforts to those communities impacted by the storm,” said Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin J. Thibault, P.E. “We are appreciative for the leadership of Governor DeSantis who continues to make vital transportation investments in Florida’s Panhandle.”

 

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