Governor Ron DeSantis announces FEMA reimbursement extension

MARIANNA, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - More money is coming to cities in the Panhandle affected by Hurricane Michael at a time when they need it the most. During a press conference Thursday in Jackson County, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the period for FEMA reimbursement has been extended.

"After meeting with the president on Tuesday he agreed to extend that period of 100% reimbursement from 5 days to 45 days," said DeSantis.

According to the Florida governor, the extension of the FEMA reimbursement period will save millions of dollars for cities affected by Hurricane Michael. DeSantis said this a way to speed up funding for recovery efforts like debris removal.

"I think all 67 counties were impacted by Hurricane Irma in 2017, there was about 2.5 million cubic square yards of debris across the whole state, and that was a lot. There was a lot of debris. This is 10 times as much as Hurricane Irma," said DeSantis.

The Governor said cities like Mexico Beach have a $3 million budget for debris removal but it will cost as much as $80 million. He said the debris is a safety issue.

"One of the things, I'm concerned about is fires," said DeSantis. "You have so much of this dry wood. The more we can take care of that and lessen that risk I think we need to do that."

At Thursday's press conference, Florida's Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said insured losses from Hurricane Michael are around $5 billion.

"Those losses are also tied to claims. So of the claims that have been processed, 130,000 claims. 76% of those as of last week have been closed," said Patronis.

Patronis encouraged victims of the storm to keep filing claims, he says he's still pushing to get 100% of those claims closed.

This was Governor DeSantis' third visit to the Panhandle and second in the past two weeks. The Governor says he wants people to know he has not forgotten about the victims of the storm.