Rebuild 850 looks to help hurricane victims

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - Three months after Hurricane Michael caused widespread devastation in the Florida Panhandle, residents there are still in desperate need of help.

Nearly three months after Hurricane Michael hit Bay County, communities like Glenwood in Panama City are still seeing piles of debris.

The coalition Rebuild 850, named for the area code, is raising money to help pay for unmet needs.

Thursday marked exactly three months since Hurricane Michael tore through Florida’s Panhandle costing billions of dollars in damage to not only homes but infrastructure, agriculture, and businesses.

“Public assistance is needed now more than ever," said former Congresswoman Gwen Graham.

A bipartisan group led by Graham, former Florida House Speaker Allan Bense, and former Florida Emergency Management Director Bryan Koon says the devastation persists.

“A picture that I took Monday," said Bense, "it's of a camper that's overturned four blocks from my house. It's still overturned. It's just... it's ugly.”

Rebuild 850 is partnering with Volunteer Florida to raise money to help in the recovery. A $250,000 check presented by Bank of America brings the total collection to nearly $400,000.

Rebuild 850 says the money it collects will go toward things like diapers and the everyday living costs that state and federal recovery funds don’t address.

“Our commitment is to make sure that the resources are well spent and spent to help people in their lives and recovery and getting back to a more normal existence," said Graham.

Volunteer Florida CEO David Mica Jr. says every dollar collected will go directly to victims.

“Volunteer Florida doesn't take salary or benefit dollars out of those donations," said Mica. "We move those directly through a granting process to our partners.”

Rebuild 850 is also encouraging people to consider vacationing in the Panhandle because it says tourism dollars help local businesses stay afloat.