CALHOUN COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Now a year and two months after Hurricane Michael, there’s still much to do in Calhoun County but officials say they’re in a good place.
“We just need funding and we need some time and we were working into getting everybody’s lives back to where it was pre-storm,” said Commission Vice Chairman Gene Bailey.
Bailey says the storm caused about 20 million dollars in damage across the county, with the timber industry taking the biggest hit.
“The timber industry, it got devastated but hopefully with the BLOCK grant program that just came out, there will be some relief for the people so they can salvage some of the timber,” Bailey said.
He says this issue could cause future problems as well.
“We feel like there are 50,000 to 100,000 cubic yards or more that is falling every day and we’re asking the state for a grant or money to try and come in and address those needs. These trees are falling every day, every night, taking down power lines, they’re falling on houses and they’re going to be here for another 2-3 years. So we want to be proactive and get a system up that we can start taking them down and get them out of the way before they do fall.”
While the county still needs more jobs and economic development, Bailey says they’ve made good strides to recovery as almost all county buildings are repaired.
“Then we have eight fire departments. Two of those have been finished. We’re working on all of them now except for Mossy Pond and we’re trying to find funds through FEMA and through a legislative appropriation to replace that building for them.”
Bailey says they hope to have that project completed before the end of 2020.
Overall, he says things are moving in a positive direction.
“Our insurance companies came to our aid and if it wasn’t for them, we’d probably still be back-peddling instead of moving forward but we fill like we’ve crossed that thresh hold now on recovery and everything is going positive now.”
Bailey says the county hasn’t needed to borrow any money so far and hopes they can keep it that way. He says FEMA has given them about $115,000 but is hoping that number increases.