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State and Federal Officials Try To Help Recovery Efforts

Hurricane Michael tore apart Northwest Florida in October leaving more than 20 million cubic square yards of debris. Moves were made at both the state and federal levels to try and help recovery efforts.

Governor Ron DeSantis announced Monday while in the panhandle that he would rush funds for debris cleanup and other storm related recovery.

“I’m instructing my department of emergency management to greenlight some of the money for debris removal,” said DeSantis.

Florida Division of Emergency Management Director, Jared Moskowitz says it won’t be easy with the budget the counties have.

“It’s an impossible task when you have a 5 or 10 or 15 or $20 million dollar annual budget, but yet just the debris is two or three times your annual budget,” said Moskowitz.

To help local budgets DeSantis wants the Federal Emergency Management Agency to pay a higher percentage of the total cost.

“I am going to talk to the president about increasing the share of FEMA reimbursable. I think that this warrants it." DeSantis cointinued saying, "Obviously there’s a lot of stuff going on in Washington right now it’s not the best of times. But I think that would be really good for the local community.”

Meanwhile in Washington this week, the Senate blocked a bill that would provide 12.1 billion dollars to help communities recover after Hurricane Michael and other recent natural disasters. Before the bill was rejected, Panhandle Republican Congressman Neal Dunn warned the House of the outcome.

“House democrats chose to play political games rather than help our victims. They knew full-well when they inserted this poison pill continuing resolution at the eleventh hour, that they doomed any chance of this bill passing The Senate," said Dunn

The amendment added by the Democrats would re-open and fund the government until February 8th. Dunn insists that addition ruins an otherwise a good bill.

“Today we will be voting on a bill that we had been told would be a stand-alone emergency funding bill addressing only the 2018 disasters unencumbered by hot button divisive issues. Unfortunately, we are voting on a very different bill. House Democrat leadership pulled a bait-and-switch at the last minute and made this otherwise good bill, into an attack on President Trump,” said Dunn.

President Trump has said that he will not support any spending bill that doesn’t include funding for a southwest border barrier. This proposal specifically prohibits any funds being spent to plan, develop, or construct a barrier along the Southwest border.

Blaise Gainey is a State Government Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Florida. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formerly worked for The Florida Channel, WTXL-TV, and before graduating interned with WFSU News. He is excited to return to the newsroom. In his spare time he enjoys watching sports, Netflix, outdoor activities and anything involving his daughter.