Elected officials at the state level and legislators from North Florida called on Congress to pass a relief effort for people impacted by Hurricane Michael which slammed into the Panhandle and the Big Bend back in October.
At a media event in Tallahassee on Thursday, members of the Florida Cabinet called for federal action. Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recategorized Hurricane Michael as a category 5 storm, moving it up from a category 4 storm.
State CFO Jimmy Patronis, who is based out of Bay County, expressed his frustration with Congress on the matter.
"It has been over six months since Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Florida Panhandle as a Category 5 hurricane and it's unacceptable that the devastated areas still don’t have congressional relief dollars. It is obvious that these communities are stuck in the middle of political games. I will not stand down until Congress takes action to pass a relief bill for recovery efforts. Families and businesses need it,” Patronis said. "I want to thank Gov. DeSantis for his steadfast commitment to Hurricane Michael recovery. I appreciate his dedication and leadership since his very first day in office on this critical issue which impacts so many families across Northwest Florida."
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody also weighed in.
"We will not let Hurricane Michael be the forgotten storm, and I stand with leaders across Florida to urge Congress to allocate the funding necessary to ensure areas of the Panhandle ravaged by this Category 5 storm can rebuild,” she said.
State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried also called on Congress to act.
“It cannot be said more clearly or urgently — the time for further delay on Hurricane Michael relief is over,” Fried said. “Floridians and our fellow Americans are struggling. Congress must pass a strong supplemental disaster relief package immediately upon their return to Washington. Every moment the people of Florida and our lands go without federal assistance, the threat of wildfires, future storms, and economic devastation grows.”
Members of the Legislature representing North Florida, including state Sens. George Gainer, R-Panama City, and Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, and state Reps. Loranne Ausley, D-Tallahassee, Brad Drake, R-Eucheeanna, and Jay Trumbull, R-Panama City, also took part in the event.