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Hurricane relief bill advances in Florida Senate

The Category 4 storm made landfall October 10
Posted at 5:24 PM, Apr 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-09 17:24:42-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A proposal to pump at least $315 million into the hurricane-battered Panhandle and to create a task force on state and local disaster responses cleared its first Senate committee Tuesday.

The Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee unanimously backed the wide-ranging measure. Under the bill, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity would get $300 million for a program that would help counties, cities and school districts cover repair costs from Hurricane Michael.

Another $15 million is sought for an agricultural loan program under the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Senator Bill Montford is sponsoring the legislation.

“Visitors to the beach have been hurt, ag has been hurt. We’ve lost a severe number of people who have moved out," said Montford. "We have a housing shortage. It’s all coming together to make the disaster even worse.”

The state has already spent about $1.6 billion responding to Hurricane Michael, most of which officials anticipate will be reimbursed by the federal government.

Michael is estimated to have caused nearly $1.5 billion in damages to Northwest Florida growers, mostly in the timber industry.

The Category 4 storm made landfall October 10 in Mexico Beach.