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FEMA approves $2.8M for Robinson Bayou project in Panama City

Panama City is getting nearly $2.8 million to improve drainage into the Robinson Bayou Basin near the King's Ranch subdivision on the town's west side.

It’s the latest hazard mitigation grant the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved for Hurricane Michael recovery.

FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Grant Program aims to make communities more resilient to flooding, hurricanes and other natural disasters. For every $1 spent on hazard mitigation, communities can save more than $6 on recovery costs, according to a 2018 report from the National Institute of Building Sciences.

Reducing the basin’s water levels when it rains is the goal of the Robinson Bayou project. Better drainage into the bayou is expected to lower the area’s downstream flood elevations.

The study will involve collecting data for Hydrologic and Hydraulic modeling, an environmental study and establishing a baseline for permitting.

The findings will ultimately guide restoration work upstream on about 309 acres of wetlands, including the redirection of water flow from nearby streams into the wetlands, replanting native vegetation in the area and reshaping channel sections to reduce erosion.

The plan also includes resizing or removing two downstream culverts to improve water flow from the basin and allowing more space for infiltration.

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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.