Bay County Loses Out On Federal Aid For Flood Damage

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PANAMA CITY - Bad news for Bay County officials who were hoping the federal government would cover the cost to repair flood damage caused by heavy rain that washed out the 4th of July.

President Obama denied a request by Governor Rick Scott to grant a disaster declaration for Bay County, which had $2 million dollars in flood damages alone. That figure only includes county owned property, not the 600 homes that were also flooded.

Scott made the request last week on behalf of Bay, Walton, Washington, Holmes and Okaloosa counties, which suffered a combined $29 million in damage.

At the time, Bryan Koon, the director of Florida’s Division of Emergency Management, said he was confident the request would be approved.

“Counties received damage which totals more than four times (their) budget for roadway infrastructure for an entire year,” said Koon. “I am confident the federal government understands the financial impact this has on these communities and the importance of federal assistance to aid in the recovery.”

Instead, only three of the five counties, Walton, Washington and Holmes, will receive assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“Helping communities return to normal after a disaster is our first priority and this assistance is an important first step in that process,” said Koon.

Governor Scott said he was disappointed that President Obama did not include all of the counties in the FEMA assistance.

"Three of our counties are receiving FEMA money and three aren't," said Scott Saturday, "They did the right thing on the counties that did, they did the wrong thing on the counties that didn't. So we're going to continue to work to make sure the right thing happens. We've got great local emergency management teams. We've got great state emergency management teams, but look, we've got this ridiculous amount of rain, we had flooding, we had damage, they should help us."

Walton and Washington Counties received nearly 20 inches of rain between July 2-7. Parts of Bay County received between 12 and 17 inches of rain during the same period.

FEMA’s Public Assistance Program helps pay for debris removal, emergency protective measures and repair/replacement of disaster-damaged, publicly-owned facilities.

Last week, Bay County spokesperson Valerie Sale told News Channel 7 that if the request was not approved, the county does have emergency funds set aside for situations like this.