Local cities look to rebuild within FEMA rules

Local News

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Although local cities face serious flooding problems and have millions in recovery money from FEMA, city leaders said they cannot use that money to solve those issues.

“Stormwater does not come into play when it comes to the rebuild of the city,” said Lynn Haven City Manager, Vicki Gainer.

With the consistent flooding in Lynn Haven, some wonder why they are directing $1.5 million to the rebuild of city hall instead of the flooding issue.

“We are going to be able to do a lot of road paving in the next fiscal year. So that’s not something that is lacking what we do know is lacking is the rebuild of the city,” Gainer said. “The animal shelter, the library, city hall, the gymnasium, ball fields, parks, those things are as important as anything else.”

The new city hall is a part of a 428 project which is specific towards rebuilding places that were damaged by Hurricane Michael.

In Callaway, city leaders are using 428 project money to rebuild John B. Gore Park.

“We got a little bit over $800,000 for road repair in the city of Callaway. The only issue is we have 65 miles of roads. And unfortunately, it was only going to pay for small sections in each road that had been considered damaged,” Callaway City Manager Ed Cook said. “There’s no way you would want to pave a section of road. You’d want to pave the entire road.”

The City of Panama City is doing a similar thing we asked them about it and this was their statement.

“The City of Panama City will look to use alternate project funds from facilities that will not be built back as a result of the storm to enhance other projects.”

428 projects are not typically used to fix stormwater issues, which is why Lynn Haven is redistributing money from already approved road repair projects to go towards the rebuilding of the city hall.

“428 money can only be moved to other 428 projects”, Cook said. “You can’t move it outside. I don’t think you could have even 428’ed a stormwater project. Maybe you could, but the 428 money had more to do with damages and most of us had already cleaned our stormwater ditches.”

When it comes to road projects, FEMA will only cover what they decide is damaged which is usually patchwork and does not cover the whole entire road.

“Roads have not been neglected in any sense,” Gainer said. “Matter of fact, we are getting ready to do a $1.7 million roads paving project now.”

City leaders said flooding is caused by a host of factors, including the loss of trees in the area, that can’t be completely fixed by cleaning out ditches or repaving the roads.

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