SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced $27 million in financial relief for those impacted by Hurricane Michael.
DeSantis is directing the Florida Division of Emergency Management to approve pending disaster recovery cost-share waivers for eligible local governments. According to the governor’s office, this is expected to give an estimated $22 million to these communities.
He also announced $4.7 million for two educational institutions through the Rebuild Florida Workforce Recovery Training Program for Hurricane Michael recovery. The program, which is administered by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, is designed to train residents in construction trades necessary to support disaster recovery efforts.
For recovery from Hurricane Michael, the federal government is reimbursing 90% of the costs of debris removal and emergency protective measures, according to the governor’s office. Officials also said that the federal government is reimbursing 75% of the costs of permanent work projects under the Public Assistance Grant Program.
As part of the announcement on Tuesday, state officials announced that they will be waiving the local cost-share requirement for eligible counties and cities with pending cost-share approvals.
The funds are allocated through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery program, according to state officials.
“As governor, I remain dedicated to the recovery of Northwest Florida and will continue to work tirelessly to deliver assistance to impacted communities,” said DeSantis. “At my direction, the state will be providing nearly $27 million to assist in Northwest Florida’s recovery from Hurricane Michael, which includes $22 million in cost-share waivers for local governments and $4.7 million to educational institutions to train Floridians in construction trades. We look forward to bringing this additional relief to the region, as well as enhancing career and job opportunities for local residents through this training program.”
“Today’s announcement builds on the work we’ve done since the first day Gov. DeSantis took office and went to Mexico Beach to provide his support to the people there who had been forgotten by everyone else but were still desperately recovering from a Category 5 hurricane,” said FDEM Director Jared Moskowitz. “I’m especially happy for the fiscally-constrained cities and counties who no longer need to bear the burden of cost-share as they continue to rebuild.”
Chipola College has been awarded $1,732,576 to create building construction and welding technology programs that will give training in masonry, carpentry, framing, electrical, and welding trades.
“Chipola College is proud to be a part of Rebuild Florida’s Workforce Recovery Training efforts in response to Hurricane Michael,” said president of Chipola College, Dr. Sarah Clemmons. “Last year, Chipola launched a new building construction trades program to train workers to rebuild homes and businesses devastated by the hurricane. Our first class of construction students has partnered with Habitat for Humanity to build four homes for local families in 2021. We are actively recruiting new construction students for the fall semester, which begins in August.”
Tallahassee Community College has been awarded $2,990,313 to develop a construction technology program that will give training in masonry, concrete finishing, electrical, plumbing, carpentry, and HVAC trades. The funding will also help the college create a sustainable living program in partnership with the Habitat for Humanity of the Big Bend. This will give training in tiny home construction.
“It is critically important to ensure that educational institutions play an active role in the recovery efforts spurred by Hurricane Michal,” said Tallahassee Community College President Jim Murdaugh. “TCC is pleased to assume a lead role in creating training programs that will provide the skills needed to not only fill the workforce gap in these in-demand trades but also address another important aspect of our mission to the environment and sustainability.”
The funding for the community college will also help create an unmanned vehicle systems technology program, which will give training for drone use in construction, real estate, emergency management, mapping, and agricultural industries.
“The department is eager to partner with Chipola College and Tallahassee Community College to bring these programs to fruition and provide Floridians impacted by Hurricane Michael with the opportunity to rebuild,” said DEO Executive Director Dane Eagle. “The program will help our Panhandle communities recover from Hurricane Michael while giving lifelong skills to workers in the construction trades.”
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