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Hurricane Michael recreated to prove Marina Civic Center should be rebuilt

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 8:10 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - The Marina Civic Center in downtown Panama City has been closed since Hurricane Michael damaged it.

More than two years later, the city is still trying to get money from FEMA to replace the building, instead of just repairing it.

“The difference in monetary value is between 11 million dollars that FEMA is willing to offer or what we believe should be closer to 34 million dollars,” said Panama City city manager Mark McQueen.

In an effort to prove to FEMA they should get more money, the city is recreating Hurricane Michael-force wind and rain on the civic center.

“Through the research during this five hour period, the wind changed from northeast to northwest as you can imagine when the hurricane’s going around winds hit the building at different wind speeds, different rainfall, and different wind direction, so by going through that five-hour session, each session matches how Hurricane Michael was hitting the building at that time,” Jim Keeney, vice president of NOVA Engineering, said.

City officials said the damage to the inside is more severe than FEMA has currently allocated money for.

“The fact that all of these components need to be replaced, all of these electronics must be replaced because they were not damp, they were wet,” McQueen said.

McQueen said the performing arts center is a central part of the community that needs to be rebuilt.

“Not only rebuild our key and vital infrastructure and businesses but also our community, that is so important for the city of Panama City, and so we believe that we should have a performing arts center that should be not repaired but replaced to meet the needs of the citizens of Panama City,” McQueen said.

McQueen also said once they record all the information they collected Thursday, they will give that to FEMA.

FEMA will decide by the end of the year if they will give the city more money to replace the civic center.

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