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Rebuild 850 Putting Spotlight Back on Hurricane Ravaged Panhandle

October 3rd, 2019 by Jake Stofan

Next week marks the one year anniversary of Hurricane Micheal making landfall in the panhandle as a Category 5 storm.

The group Rebuild 850 is painting a bleak picture of the ongoing recovery as it attempts rally public support.

Video taken just days ago shows massive damage from Hurricane Michael still littering the ground.

“The further you get from North West Florida geographically, the less people know that Hurricane Michael even happened,” said Rebuild 850 coordinator Ron Sachs.

But forgetting for those in the panhandle isn’t an option.
“We still have people who are living under blue tarps that are rotting they’re that old,” said Sate Senator Bill Montford.

Shocking statistics including 5,000 homeless, 4,000 lost jobs, eroding tax bases, more than 20,000 outstanding insurance claims and more than $9 billion in uninsured losses barely scratches the surface of the situation in the region.

“When the wind starts blowing these elementary kids in particular start crying,” said Montford.

Rebuild 850 is hoping to put the spotlight back on the panhandle with the one year anniversary of Michael only a week away.

“If these solutions aren’t found in a relatively short period of time you could find yourself with a community that has a hard time ever looking like it did pre-Michael,” said Rebuild 850 co-chair and Former Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford.

Former FEMA Director Craig Fugate said if homes aren’t repaired and rebuilt within five years it could be too late.

He added the onus falls on local, state and federal officials to act boldly and make the money available.

Fugate believes Housing and Urban Development funds are the best option and it’s been done before.

“Louisiana was able to get those dollars to go make direct repairs to damaged homes that didn’t have insurance,” said Fugate.

Locals fear recovery will continue be placed on the back burner if public support remains scarce.

Rebuild 850 has raised more than $600,000, which has been donated to Volunteer Florida to help with recovery efforts.

If you’d like to make a donation visit Rebuild850.org.

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