Bay County approves $50 million bond, creates task force to address hurricane recovery priorities

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Bay County Commissioners have approved a $50 million bond to fund Hurricane Michael recovery efforts across the county.

The money will be paying for response, recovery, and mitigation, including debris removal and storm-water system repairs as well as staffing and payroll.

County commissioners are documenting the expenses to be reimbursed by FEMA.

They're comparing this financial situation to what Monroe County faced after Hurricane Irma.

"Monroe County has actually been a huge asset for us. They faced Irma 15 months ago, so right after the storm, their leadership team was up here with us meeting and discussing their obstacles, their problems, their challenges, so it's been a huge benefit for us to learn from their mistakes and so we hope to use that knowledge they gave us to make it a more efficient process to get that recovery back from FEMA much quicker," District 5 Commissioner Philip "Griff" Griffitts said.

Commissioners say this bond will probably be the first of several in order to rebuild the community.

Bay County commissioners have also created a long-term Hurricane Michael Recovery Task Force.

The overall goal of the task force is to address and solve the housing, infrastructure, and health care concerns locals have.

It's made up of nine members. One representative from each city, one from the Bay District School Board, and one from the county.

At Tuesday's county commission meeting, the board appointed Commissioner Robert Carroll as their representative.

He will be serving as the task force's chairman.

"This is the way that we're going to identify everyone's needs, how we address those needs when it comes to housing, when it comes to infrastructure, when it comes to the economy and this task force, we'll work with every single city to come together as one unified body to have one message to Congress so we can get reimbursed and rebuild our great community," Carroll said.

The task force will make recommendations to the county and other governments regarding items of priority to residents.