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Local governments still paying the price for Hurricane Michael

Despite reimbursements from FEMA, many local government leaders say there is still much more to be paid for Hurricane Michael recovery. (WJHG/WECP)
Despite reimbursements from FEMA, many local government leaders say there is still much more to be paid for Hurricane Michael recovery. (WJHG/WECP)(WJHG)
Published: Jan. 30, 2020 at 6:39 PM CST
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Hurricane Michael tore through the Panhandle in all of four hours, but its aftermath is still being felt.

Lynn Haven's city manager Vickie Gainer said, "we have about a little bit over $12 million in the queue that we're waiting to receive from FEMA."

To date FEMA has reimbursed Lynn Haven roughly $7 million.

"So you have to spend as though you don't have that money, and then when you receive it, it's a blessing and you can continue to recover and rebuild because of those funds," said Gainer. "Really we're focused on getting those projects through that are concentrated on buildings, getting focused back into their buildings, the sports complex, the administrative buildings, the old city hall, the new city hall, PD and chambers."

Meanwhile, the unincorporated parts of Bay County are still repaying a nine-digit price tag brought on by the storm.

Robert "Bob" Majka, Bay County's county manager, said, "to date we have expended a little over $224 million. We expect the total expenditures to be well north of half a billion by the time that we're done."

So far FEMA has reimbursed the county for 78% of its expenditures.

"That's helped us to avoid a significant amount of interest that we would have otherwise had to of paid if we were going through a long drawn out protracted process," said Majka.

Most of the repairs the county is currently using the money for are facilities, parks, roads, and bridges.

The county is currently paying a 75/25 cost share, meaning the county and state must each repay 12.5% of costs while FEMA pays 75%, but officials are hopeful the county will pass a certain numerical threshold of costs that would consequently lower the county's cost share to 90/10.

Copyright 2020 WJHG. All rights reserved.

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