DeSantis announces $111M for communities hit by Hurricane Michael


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis held a news conference Thursday with the head of the Department of Economic Opportunity to announce funds for communities in the Florida Panhandle that were hit by Hurricane Michael in 2018.

The governor said $111 million has been awarded to 22 communities that were impacted by the devastating hurricane. The money is being awarded through the DEO’s Rebuild Florida program.

“This Rebuild Florida funding will provide local governments with critical resources to harden their infrastructure and ensure that these communities are as prepared as possible for future disasters,” the governor said.

DeSantis and DEO Executive Director Dane Eagle spoke in Panama City Beach hours after the governor was in West Palm Beach signing an election bill into law.

The governor’s office did not provide a topic for the news conference before the event. It came just one day after Gov. DeSantis said Florida residents who are receiving unemployment benefits will soon have to provide proof they’re looking for a job. The requirement was lifted early in the coronavirus pandemic when unemployment numbers soared and jobs were hard to come by amid shutdowns. Since then, DeSantis has lifted restrictions on businesses.

During an appearance Wednesday, the governor noted that it’s clear Florida has a number of job openings. He said May will be the last month people can collect benefits without looking for a new job.

Hundreds of thousands of Floridians struggled with Florida’s unemployment system throughout the pandemic. An investigation from the state’s chief inspector found the system was not properly designed or tested, according to a preliminary report released earlier this year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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