By: Jacob Murphey | WCTV Eyewitness News
February 14, 2020
QUINCY, Fla. (WCTV) -- 16 months ago, Hurricane Michael changed thousands of lives forever. And still, the recovery process is painstakingly slow.
State officials are working to unlock a massive stash of federal grant money and make it's way down the panhandle.
A crucial step in that effort is happening Friday night at public workshops across the Big Bend.
The message is to hold tight, because major funding is just beyond the horizon.
But, that's tough, as there are numerous homes across the Big Bend still with tarps on their roof, just one of the many signs of the remnants of Michael that remain.
Friday severed as one of several chances for the public to share thoughts with the state Department of Economic Development, which is leading the charge to create an action plan.
If approved, U.S. Department of Housing will release $735 million for the long-term rebuild. But, the approval process could take months. Even then, state officials will have to develop a grant awarding process before implementation. Once it begins, the funds are good for the next six years.
So, how do those struggling handle that fact?
Gadsden County Commissioner Brenda Holt says just knowing help is on the way is huge.
"They see some hope, then it's worth it to get some help," she said. "When people do not have the money to repair those, they don't have insurance, that way they're still waiting for help, individuals are still living in other places, other locations."
Holt compared this process to Katrina Aid, noting some communities are still suffering in New Orleans.
One encouraging sign from the state; projects that may have been denied by FEMA in the last year could get approval with this program. But, that's still in the distant future.