$85 Million Earmarked for Continued Hurricane Cleanup in Three Counties

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Hurricane season may be only two weeks away, but parts of northwest Florida are still repairing damage from Hurricane Ivan last fall.

Florida lawmakers have sent an $85 million appropriation to Gov. Jeb Bush for Walton, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa Counties. Part of the money will go to continue hurricane cleanup.

With weather experts already predicting an above average season, it’s not hard for Walton County residents to imagine what that means.

Mark Jenkins of South Walton learned lessons from last year that he’ll use this time around.

“I’ll talk to more people and make sure they take it seriously. Don’t misjudge these hurricanes and take them for granted. You can’t say I’ve been through it before, we can survive them.”

This part of northwest Florida survived a brush with Hurricane Ivan, but areas like Pensacola took a direct hit and were devastated. Many parts of the town are still in disrepair. The money sent by the legislature will go a long ways to helping clean up.

But some residents say it taken too long to get here and the money is too late. Jay Burkett of Okaloosa County is one of them.

“The hurricane season is starting right now. I’d say it’s too late to use the money. Maybe down the road we can, but it’s a little too late for this season.”

State Rep. Ray Samson of Fort Walton Beach says lawmakers are still proud of the appropriation and the money will not go to waste.