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DeSantis announces $12M to support resiliency projects, Hurricane Michael recovery in rural communities

 Gov. Ron DeSantis stopped in Washington and Holmes Counties today to announce funding for hazard mitigation projects and Hurricane Michael recovery on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021.
The Florida Channel
Gov. Ron DeSantis stopped in Washington and Holmes Counties today to announce funding for hazard mitigation projects and Hurricane Michael recovery on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021.

Gov. Ron DeSantis stopped in two rural counties in the Panhandle on Thursday to announce more funding for communities recovering from Hurricane Michael.

Rural communities across the Panhandle will get help with securing federal grants for more resiliency projects.

In Washington County on Thursday, DeSantis announced $8.9 million for several counties across the region.

Those funds will cover the local matching costs required to get hazard mitigation grants through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“And it helps communities build back from damaged areas to where they will be more resilient if future storms come," DeSantis said. "The problem is the FEMA funds require the community to pay 25 percent match in order to receive the funding. Well, that’s not something all these communities are able to do and can afford.”

The state dollars will pick up that 25% tab for local communities in Washington, Bay, Calhoun, Jackson, Gulf, Gadsden and Leon Counties.

DeSantis says the dollars will help fund 32 resiliency projects.

In October, DeSantis also announced about $3.1 million in matching funds for Panhandle resiliency projects.

Stopping in Holmes County, DeSantis also announced Hurricane Michael recovery dollars for residents who are still rebuilding three years after the storm.

Two regional non-profits —the Tri-County Community Council and the Capital Area Community Action Agency — will get $3.2 million to help residents with personal expenses related to hurricane recovery.

“And so there are certain things you think of like roofs and things like that. But what about things like HVAC, furniture, all these other things?" DeSantis said. "So this will be able to be used in these communities for that."

DeSantis says the state has already spent about a million dollars on helping about 350 households through the two agencies. The funds announced on Thursday could help another 1,200 in the region, he said.

The funding comes from the Department of Economic Opportunity’s Community Services Block Grant program.

The dollars will help residents in Holmes, Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Jackson, Liberty, Taylor and Wakulla Counties.

DeSantis says the state has also approved a federal cost-share waiver to help Holmes County with Hurricane Sally costs.

Copyright 2021 WFSU. To see more, visit WFSU.

Valerie Crowder is a freelance reporter based in Panama City, Florida. Before moving to Florida, she covered politics and education for Public Radio East in New Bern, North Carolina. While at PRE, she was also a fill-in host during All Things Considered. She got her start in public radio at WAER-FM in Syracuse, New York, where she was a part-time reporter, assistant producer and host. She has a B.A. in newspaper online journalism and political science from Syracuse University. When she’s not reporting the news, she enjoys reading classic fiction and thrillers, hiking with members of the Florida Trail Association and doing yoga.