Recovery

Florida Rep. Neal Dunn Says He Will Make Hurricane Michael Recovery the Top Priority This Session

With the start of a new Congress, Dunn has been talking to his colleagues about the devastation of Hurricane Michael — over and over again if need be — to push the issues forward.

by Katie Landeck, The News Herald, Panama City, Fla. / January 8, 2019
AP/Gerald Herbert

(TNS) — With Hurricane Michael having largely fallen out of the national news cycle, Congressman Neal Dunn has found himself in a new position on Capitol Hill — hurricane spokesman.

"It's my job to be the cheerleader (for Hurricane Michael recovery)," he said. "The squeaky wheel gets the grease."

With the start of a new Congress, Dunn has been talking to his colleagues about the devastation of Hurricane Michael — over and over again if need be — to push the issues forward.

This week, he hopes to push through the House the first of several disaster supplemental bills that would have relief money for Hurricane Michael as well as Hurricane Florence and the California wildfires.

"This would just be the down payment," Dunn said.

It will take more than one bill to cover the cost, but this first one would set money aside for line items such as debris cleanup, money for the Air Force to start redesigning Tyndall Air Force Base, and money to cover costs such as Tyndall putting airmen up in hotels during the mandatory evacuation.

But more will be coming, Dunn said, noting this is a long process.

"I've been talking to some of the other congressmen who had a disaster happen in their district, and they said that for four years this will be your No. 1 priority," Dunn said.

In addition to working on reimbursement money, Dunn said a lot of time is being spent pushing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) forward on efforts, such as getting trailers to the area as fast as possible, and working with other involved agencies such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on housing grants.

He sends letters at least weekly to agencies that can help, and said he is constantly talking to his allies in Washington to keep the challenges that persist in the area at the forefront.

But Dunn also is careful to not become so focused on the macro storm recovery, that he forgets about what can seem like the micro — the problems constituents are having wrangling the federal government.

Currently, he said, his staff is helping people navigate their FEMA cases.

"You think you would run into the same problems, but each one has this little twist or that little twist," he said. "We will help them with their problems to the extent we can."

———

©2019 The News Herald (Panama City, Fla.)

Visit The News Herald (Panama City, Fla.) at www.newsherald.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.