The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today officially upgraded Hurricane Michael to a Category 5 storm. The hurricane made landfall on October 10, 2018 in Mexico Beach, with NOAA now classifying the windspeed at 161 mph, up from 155 mph. The storm devastated large swaths of the Florida Panhandle, including a $1.3 billion blow to the timber farming industry, and 72 million tons of fallen trees creating a wildfire threat ten times greater than normal.
In response to the Category 5 upgrade, Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried offered the following statement:
“This comes as no surprise to Florida Panhandle communities devastated by Hurricane Michael, one of the most powerful storms to ever strike North America. Yet six months later, Congress has failed to pass disaster relief, leaving our residents, families, and farmers without hope for the future. Disaster relief has typically passed Congress in mere weeks following other disasters, which begs the question: why not here? This Category 5 designation should make our state eligible for additional federal disaster aid, for which Floridians continue to patiently wait – but time is running out.”