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Feds announce grants for workers dislocated by Hurricane Michael

For Florida counties impacted by Hurricane Michael, the U.S. Department of Labor is making National Dislocated Worker Grants available to help assess workforce needs.

The grants announced Wednesday will be to supplement state and local response and recovery efforts.

“The Department of Labor will deploy resources to help Floridians who, as a result of Hurricane Michael, find themselves unable to work and without a paycheck,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. “The American workforce — along with our volunteers and first responders — is the greatest in the world. As we did during last year’s destructive hurricane season, Americans will come together to rebuild their communities. The Department is here to help ensure the safety and stability of Floridians along the way.”

The Department of Labor will monitor the storm and its effects on Florida communities, taking additional action as necessary.

Workforce grants temporarily expand dislocated worker training and employment programs in cases of unexpected economic events causing significant job losses under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014.

Michael is anticipated to be the worst storm to hit the Florida Panhandle in more than a century. As of 11 a.m. Wednesday the storm had sustained winds of 150 mph, making it a strong Category 4 hurricane. Storms become a Category 5 at 157 mph sustained winds, according to the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Florida Governor Rick Scott announced Wednesday morning that the time to evacuate from coastal areas in the panhandle “has come and gone,” but that some inland areas could still evacuate if it is safe to do so.

The storm is affecting areas outside of the Panhandle, too; storm surges in the Tampa Bay area expected to reach between 2-6 feet.

Some local areas have already seen flooding and residents are told to be cautious of rising waters, particularly as high tide approaches around 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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