Congressman Neal Dunn speaks on Hurricane Michael aftermath, recovery, veterans’ resources

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – Florida Congressman Neal Dunn stopped by News 13 WMBB during a live broadcast on Saturday to speak on Hurricane Michael recovery efforts in the area.

Congressman Dunn said water should start flowing through the county on Sunday, but “a lot of leaks to be fixed.”

He also acknowledged the nervousness of homeowners in Washington County, as they were left out of the initial emergency declaration.

“Homes in Washington did get put into the emergency declaration this afternoon,” Dunn confirmed Saturday.

They will get all the normal FEMA emergency benefits from the state.

Dunn said he has not spoken to President Trump.

“No, I’ve talked to his representatives at the White House. I’ve talked a lot to the governor. The governor’s been down here multiple times. Very, very helpful. You know, he’s kind of become a professional at disasters… Florida is good at this. We manage this.”

As for FEMA aid, residents should know they don’t get any aid until they are registered for it.

Dunn said the easiest way to do that is to go to one of the shelters where FEMA has representatives.

They also have 120 teams roaming the streets.

“They will send someone to your house, look at the house, then give you a voucher for temporary shelter, typically a hotel room on the beach or maybe farther away,” Dunn said.

You can go online, then wait for FEMA to come to you, or you can go to one of those shelters or catch a representative in your neighborhood.

Dunn also said there are “massive” quantities of food and water coming in.

“If you don’t have it, if you need it, go to the shelters. They distribute there,” he said.

For federal issues, Dunn said his office will be open around the clock this weekend. 

He reiterated what many officials are saying; If you don’t have to, don’t come back yet.

“You don’t have the infrastructure here. You don’t have the water. Your toilets won’t flush. The electricity isn’t on. The internet doesn’t work. Most of us don’t have cellphones.”

Dunn said the area is not ready for people to come back yet, but he promised it will be soon.

“If you just come here and you stretch already thin resources, you’re not doing anybody a favor,” he said.

Dunn said he’s seen a lot of great neighborly gestures after the storm and he wants Floridians to keep that up, reminding folks that first responders are storm victims as well.

As for veterans, Dunn said Tyndall Air Force Base has set up a veteran’s relief site for active duty service members as well as veterans.

The Navy base has a relief site as well for veterans to access services available to them through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. 

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