MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Governor Ron DeSantis came back to the panhandle on Thursday to check on Hurricane Michael recovery.
He also used the visit to announce more help for the most devastated city, Mexico Beach.
Mayor Al Cathey says he remembers DeSantis’ first full day in the office and the conversations they had during the Governor’s first visit to Mexico Beach post-storm.
“He (DeSantis) told me that day that Mexico Beach would not be forgotten. I took him at his word,” Cathey said.
With the one year anniversary of the storm just weeks away, DeSantis says he’s aware the national media has forgotten about the panhandle, but he and his office haven’t.
DeSantis announced during his visit a new plan the legislature has come up with to bring more relief to the impacted areas.
“We secured 25 million dollars in funding for a state grant program to support the communities affected by Hurricane Michael,” DeSantis said.
The money will be split between different municipalities that apply for the funds and the first piece of the pot, 1.1 million dollars, is going to Mexico Beach.
The money will be put towards emergency services.
“We saw an opportunity to support the Mexico Beach Fire Department as well as the police. Some law enforcement operations,” DeSantis said.
The city council recently voted to dismantle the police department in the city and now contracting the services through the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.
“There’s $100,000 dollar start-up costs for vehicles and equipment. This money will offset what we had budgeted for,” Cathey said.
The remaining one million dollars will be put towards the fire department.
DeSantis says he knows funding is the biggest issue throughout the panhandle and keeping first responders working is vital to recovery.
We just realized that this is a long term deal. I mean we live in such a fast-paced society, there’s something new every day it seems like people get up and arms about but this is something that’s just going to require a sustained effort and my administration realizes and we’re going to be in it for the long haul,” DeSantis said.
The Governor says he expects to make more announcements like this in the future.
He says he and the first lady, Casey DeSantis, will be spending the one year anniversary of Hurricane Michael in the panhandle.