Officials at the federal and state levels continue to go to bat for the Panhandle and other parts of the state impacted by Hurricane Michael a month after that storm hit Florida.
Speaking with Sunshine State News on Thursday, staffers for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., noted that he will continue to push for more federal aid to Florida as it recovers from the hurricane.
“There’s a lot of work left to do, but our office continues to stand ready to assist Floridians. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, he’ll also be working in the new Congress to secure supplemental funding for Florida’s recovery from Hurricane Michael,” Rubio’s office informed Sunshine State News.
Rubio’s office also released a new video on Thursday showing his efforts to help North Florida recover from Hurricane Michael.
In the meantime, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced it will waive onsite inspections for the Emergency Forestry Restoration Program (EFRP) for counties impacted by the hurricane. That decision won the applause of U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., who sits on the U.S. House Agriculture Committee.
“I support the USDA’s recent announcement to waive the requirement for on-site staff inspections for the Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP),” Yoho said on Thursday. “Following Hurricane Michael, large swaths of Florida’s panhandle and surrounding counties were left devastated. The large amounts of fallen timber on private land is substantial and needs to be addressed to prevent pest infestation and potential wildfires. Landowners affected by Hurricane Michael need an expedited process, so they can salvage this fallen timber and rehabilitate their land as quickly as possible. I applaud the USDA and their effort to make this happen. Anyone needing assistance should visit their local FSA office.”
State CFO Jimmy Patronis offered an update on hurricane recovery efforts on Thursday, noting that searches in the Panhandle are now complete and noting more than 117,200 insurance claims with losses estimated at around $2.75 billion.
“One month ago, Hurricane Michael devastated the Florida Panhandle,” Patronis said. “I've witnessed firsthand the amazing strides these resilient communities have made towards recovery. I want the nation to know that the Panhandle is open for business and we are on our way back and will be stronger than ever.”
Private companies are also continuing to help out with the Scientific Games Corporation, which works with the Florida Lottery, announcing on Thursday that it will contribute $100,000 to the Bay Law Enforcement Assistance Foundation and the Florida Disaster Fund.
“As a Bay County resident myself, it brings tears to my eyes to see folks giving back in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. The storm was strong, but our people are stronger and we will rebuild. I appreciate the donations of Scientific Games and the many other private sector partners who have stepped up to help families hurting in the Panhandle,” Patronis said about the donation.