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Brad Drake requests $67M for Michael recovery

The funds would benefit Washington and Jackson counties in his district.

Panhandle Republican Rep. Brad Drake requested nearly $67 million in hurricane recovery funds this week for his Michael-stricken district.

In 2018, Hurricane Michael made landfall at Mexico Beach before traveling north through the Eucheeanna Republican’s district. HD 5 includes Holmes, Jackson, Walton, Washington counties and part of Bay County.

Drake’s multimillion dollar request comes in eight separate bills filed Tuesday, the bulk of which (HB 4685) asks for a $60 million commerce center and evacuation shelter in Washington County. Nearly $2.1 million in a separate bill (HB 4671) would help upgrade the county’s communication system, including three new communication towers.

“The goal of this project is to never be in that position again for the sake of county residents and evacuees,” the budget request states.

In Jackson County, Drake filed for nearly $1 million for emergency generators at Jackson Hospital (HB 4681) and $250,000 for a new centralized county office building (HB 4675).

Two bills would benefit Chipola College in Marianna. One (HB 4697) would put $2 million toward pitching flat roofs while another (HB 4683) would use $350,000 to recoup lost fees and tuition.

In Jacob City, $600,000 would go toward a new community center (HB 4699) while $550,000 would provide upgrades to the city hall (HB 4693). The City hall would also be a refuge during future storms, according to the budget request.

Last month, Gov. Ron DeSantis asked the Legislature to renew the $25 million Hurricane Michael Recovery Grant Program, which the state expects to empty by the end of the year. The grant allowed local and county governments to expedite funding requests from the state’s Division of Emergency Management.

Other lawmakers have also filed bills to benefit the affected area.

Tallahassee Democrat Sen. Bill Montford proposed allocating $50 million each year to 14 counties impacted by the hurricane until 2027 (HB 722). And Panama City Republican Rep. Jay Trumbull requested nearly $1.3 million to reimburse Gulf Coast State College for lost tuition and fees (HB 4715).

Port St. Joe Republican Rep. Jason Shoaf proposed up to $50 million in recovery funding, including $24.2 million for school facilities in Calhoun County (HB 2987). He also proposed $1.5 million for an emergency operations center in Franklin County (HB 2977).

Written By

Renzo Downey covers the Florida Legislature for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering the Texas House of Representatives for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at renzo@floridapolitics.com and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.

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