PANAMA CITY, Fla.- Panama City officials said they’re dedicated to helping the community after Hurricane Michael and they’re aware that housing remains one of the biggest challenges.
Through a new FEMA trailer program, the city is getting more trailers for those who still need a temporary home. At Tuesday’s commission meeting, two items on the agenda, both pertaining to FEMA trailers, were the center of discussion.
Item 5C extended the 1-year deadline for temporary FEMA trailers. That means the more than 300 trailers placed at group sites, along with those trailers on private property can now stay until April of 2020 instead of having to be removed later this year in October.
“Well, it gives them an extra 6 months there to be able to get their house finished. Gives them an extra six months to create a housing solution,” said Panama City Mayor, Greg Brudnicki.
Mayor Brudnicki said originally the deadline was a year from the day Hurricane Michael hit but since trailers weren’t placed until February, he felt it was right to extend the deadline.
The city also recommended to FEMA that unused trailers still be distributed to those who are in need of temporary housing.
“With the unused trailers that we saw in the travel trailer program in the group sites that there would be an opportunity for them to donate them back essentially to the city so we can help meet the needs of our citizens,” said City Manager of Panama City, Mark McQueen.
Mayor Brudnicki hopes this process will help those who weren’t assisted by FEMA.
“People have fallen through the cracks and for whatever reason, did not qualify for a FEMA trailer. So we were able to work through the county and through the federal government to get some of these surplus trailers from Marianna and they’re being brought here. Some of those are going to be going on the homes where they are multi-generational homes where they didn’t qualify for FEMA,” Brudnicki said.
Rather than dealing with FEMA, the city will run the process of trailer approval.
“It’s a first come, first serve, first qualified. They just need to call the city of Panama City and call our housing department, Mr. Michael Johnson is our director there and he’ll be glad to help them in the process,” said McQueen.
“Most of their requirements are going to be similar but then you know there’s going to be some that I’m sure are going to be more lenient because we’ve obviously got people that are going to qualify for ours that didn’t qualify for FEMA,” said Brudnicki.
For more information on how to apply for these FEMA trailers, call Panama City, city hall at 850-872-3000 and ask for the housing department.