Hurricane Michael

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried says hemp farming in the Panhandle could bring relief from the billion and a half dollar hit to the region’s timber industry. She joined WFSU’s special Perspectives program this week, broadcast from Mexico Beach, on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Michael that left millions of acres damaged.

Greenwood's only grocery store caught fire after Hurricane Michael. A year after the storm, it still hasn’t been replaced. The residents of the Jackson County city are banding together to assist elderly and low-income neighbors who can’t travel to find fresh food.

A year after Hurricane Michael slammed Florida's panhandle, communities there are struggling, and rebuilding is slow. With housing devastated, local governments are being forced to raise property tax rates to pay for high recovery costs, and a severe housing shortage has caused many, to temporarily leave the area.

A high school marching band greeted shoppers and paraded through the store when a Winn-Dixie supermarket reopened recently. Businesses have been slow to reopen since Hurricane Michael, in part because there aren't enough workers.

At least 90% of structures in Panama City were damaged in Hurricane Michael. One year later, city officials are about to resume code enforcement actions, and residential property owners say they’re ready for the city to begin cracking down on neglected lots that pose a health and safety hazard to their neighborhoods.

Last year, after Hurricane Michael wrought havoc in the Panhandle, school officials began raising concerns about an emergent mental health crisis among students. Bay County Superintendent Bill Hussfelt said in the first four months following the storm, 70 kids had been involuntarily held for mental health treatment through the Baker Act. But in the first two months of this school year, 50 students have already been institutionally committed. 

Former North Florida Congresswoman Gwen Graham is no longer a part of the Rebuild 850 fundraising effort. In a series of tweets Monday, Graham says she was told by “a friend” to step down from her leadership role with the organization over comments Graham has made regarding Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Gov. DeSantis Seeks More Federal Money For Hurricane Irma Cleanup

Aug 20, 2019

Gov. Ron DeSantis wants the White House to increase federal reimbursements from 75 percent to 90 percent for on-going recovery work following Hurricane Irma, which pummeled Florida nearly two years ago.

Small Businesses Still Struggle To Recover From Hurricane Michael

Aug 19, 2019

Hurricane Michael recovery efforts continue to plod along in the Florida Panhandle, as a high demand for labor is butting up against limited housing for workers in areas ravaged by the storm 10 months ago, according to business owners and officials.

As another hurricane season begins, emergency managers and other officials throughout the Southeast and along the Gulf Coast are applying lessons they learned last year during Hurricane Michael. Those lessons include how they conduct evacuations.

An estimated 72 million pounds of timber fell during Hurricane Michael. Much of that wood has landed on fire breaks, exacerbating wildfire conditions.  

Hurricane Impact On Fish Spurs Emergency Order

Jun 6, 2019

Hurricane Michael’s impact on shoal bass in the Chipola River and its tributaries drew a state emergency order Wednesday against harvesting the freshwater fish. 

Long-Sought Disaster Aid Package Passes House

Jun 4, 2019

A federal disaster-relief package, long sought by Florida officials and Panhandle residents recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Michael, received approval Monday from the U.S. House after three earlier attempts were blocked. 

Florida Disaster Relief Blocked Again In Congress

May 28, 2019

A second congressional Republican, arguing for a vote by the full House, blocked an attempt Tuesday to pass long-stalled federal disaster relief funding that would assist Florida’s hurricane-ravaged Panhandle.

The latest move came after a group of Panhandle residents targeted --- through a full-page ad in the Austin American-Statesman newspaper --- a Texas Republican who initially blocked the bill on Friday.

Evan Vucci / Associated Press

President Donald Trump on Wednesday vowed Tyndall Air Force Base will be rebuilt after sustaining massive damage in Hurricane Michael, and he will approve the state’s request to boost federal funding for storm recovery in Northwest Florida.

Trump, during a campaign rally in Panama City Beach, said the federal reimbursement levels for hurricane recovery in the region will be boosted from 75 percent to 90 percent “in many circumstances.”

President Trump will hold his first 2020 Florida political rally since the 2018 elections on Wednesday, and he's doing it in the Panhandle, the heart of his base in the state.

But the region is facing setbacks because of a federal funding shortfall after Hurricane Michael last fall that threatens to dampen enthusiasm.

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