Panama City Receiving First FEMA Reimbursement After Hurricane Michael

Since the Hurricane Michael, the city has taken out a $50 million loan to cover expenses, with plans in the work to take out another $25 million.

by Katie Landeck, The News Herald, Panama City, Fla. / March 14, 2019

(TNS) - Having spent over $50 million on Hurricane Michael, it was with great relief Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki received the news Wednesday the first FEMA reimbursement is on its way.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency informed the city Wednesday their first partial reimbursement for emergency protection measures, totaling $1,862,911, is coming. The check will be the second the region has seen since the storm with Mexico Beach receiving over $2 million for their clean up in February.

Having heard stories of how slow FEMA can be to process reimbursement monies, Brudnicki said he was "pleasantly surprised," by the news.

"I really was," he said. "People have been pushing really hard at the state level to make this happen."

Since taking office, Gov. Ron DeSantis has talked about finding ways to expedite the reimbursement process for the Panhandle. His help is critical as the federal funds are funneled through the state and back into the community. DeSantis also helped convince President Donald Trump to up the federal government's share of the cost and reimburse the region 100 percent of the first 45 days of clean up, instead of the originally declared five. The deal was finalized in writing on Sunday.

The first projects submitted by the city are initially being funded at the original 75-percent federal cost share rate to avoid any delays. According to officials, this and other public assistance projects were in process prior to approval of 100 percent cost share. The projects are expected to be adjusted to provide the remaining 25 percent of eligible costs.

Since the Hurricane Michael, the city has taken out a $50 million loan to cover expenses, with plans in the work to take out another $25 million. Brudnicki said even with the first reimbursement, the extra $25 million will likely be necessary due to yet un-billed expenses and the continual cost of debris clean up, including the ditches.

Still, "this helps," he said. "It gets the money flowing in the right direction."

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

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