Half a year has passed since Hurricane Michael ravaged the panhandle of Florida and there is still a lot of work to be done in order to rebuild many northwestern Florida counties.
In a press conference Thursday, Bay County Commissioner Philip Griffitts estimated the cost of debris pickup alone to be $750 million, according to the Panama City News Herald.
“You cannot survive when your debris hauling bill is 10-times your budget,” the commissioner said.
As of April 9, $1.1 billion has been spent by FEMA to begin to tackle the enormous task of rebuilding.
The federal government needs to step up its contribution to the rebuilding effort.
The storm damages cost over $4.6 billion, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
“They still have not provided one dollar in emergency supplemental relief,” Rep. Jay Trumbull said in the state Florida House of Representatives on Wednesday.
The state Senate even went so far as to pass a resolution urging Congress to act on additional funding.
To put the majority of the bill on the state government for the cleanup and rebuilding of the panhandle would be detrimental to our budget.
The Florida state Senate is already looking to give the relief effort an additional $1.8 billion, which makes up a sizable percentage of the state’s overall budget, according to the Associated Press.
When Hurricane Michael hit land in October the country was at the height of campaign season for various elections and other natural disasters were hitting the country elsewhere. As a result, it seems as though the country’s limited attention overlooked the tragedy that had hit North Florida.
The national conversation quickly switched to the devastating wildfires in California and it seems as though many members of Congress forgot about the issues of the panhandle.
Much of the conversation around disaster relief in Washington has surrounded the allocation of funds sent to Puerto Rico and President Donald Trump’s petty squabbles concerning Puerto Rican leaders.
These factors have led to inaction on the part of the federal government and the Floridian people are the ones that are currently suffering for it.
North Florida is demanding action be taken and the country would be wise to listen to them.
Jared Sellick is a junior majoring in political science.