TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Backed heavily by the federal government, Florida has distributed about $1.5 billion to governments and agencies across a region of the Panhandle devastated nearly three years ago by Category 5 Hurricane Michael, according to Department of Economic Opportunity Secretary Dane Eagle.
Eagle announced the figure Friday as he joined Gov. Ron DeSantis at the Bay County Emergency Operations Center in Southport to mark the upcoming third anniversary of Michael, which made landfall near Mexico Beach on Oct. 10, 2018.
“The governor told me on day one, we’ve got this money coming down from the feds, don’t sit on it. Get it out,” Eagle said, adding “we’ve been able to do $1.5 billion, and there’s still so much more to come.”
DeSantis also used the event to announce an additional $3.1 million in matching grants to Bay County, Wakulla County, the city of Chattahoochee, and Talquin Electric Cooperative.
The money is coming from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which is federal funding administered by the state Division of Emergency Management.
DeSantis said the state will cover the 25-percent match required from local agencies receiving the grants.
“Some of the cities are not going to be able to produce that type of money,” DeSantis said.
“And so, we’re happy that what we’re doing today is basically, we’re covering that match for these communities.”
DeSantis also credited former President Donald Trump for the federal funding, which included 100 percent reimbursement for 45 days of local government debris removal.
The governor, a close ally of Trump’s, added that, if a similar storm happened today, “I can’t guarantee you we get quite the same amount of support.” The grant program has provided more than $417 million for Michael recovery efforts and disaster mitigation projects in Northwest Florida.
DeSantis noted that the state also has spent $120 million to renourish beaches, remove debris and rebuild state parks.
Insurance companies separately have paid out $8.51 billion for property damages to businesses and homeowners, according to the state Office of Insurance Regulation.