Tallahassee Republicans have neglected those still struggling after the storm
Nearly two years after Hurricane Michael made landfall as a devastating Category 5 hurricane, residents of the Panhandle communities in the path of the storm continue to struggle due to the neglect of Republican Leadership in Tallahassee. For more than six months, residents waited as the Legislature refused to come into special session to render them aid and FEMA assistance remained hard to come by. During that time, conditions continued to deteriorate as families continued to live in tents with affordable housing impossible to find, children missed out on meals without transportation to school, and farmers struggled to make ends meet with their crops destroyed and timber littering the ground uncollected and creating a wildfire risk.
When the 2019 Legislature finally acted, the total amount of funds allocated for hurricane relief amounted to just one quarter of one percent of the state’s $91.1 billion budget.
For Representative Loranne Ausley, who had been on the ground since 2 days after the storm working with local non-profits and everyday citizens to deliver food, supplies, and assistance, this was unacceptable, so she voted against this 2019 budget, decrying at the time the lack of funding for Hurricane recovery and the need for raises for state workers, many of whom lived in the affected areas.
“After Hurricane Michael, the incredible humanitarian crisis facing the people of the Florida Panhandle was immediately clear,” stated Representative Loranne Ausley. “Over the last two years, the recovery has been slow and many are still suffering, a fact that can be directly attributed to the lack of action by Republican Leadership in Tallahassee and their refusal to prioritize the people of our Panhandle communities. I have been incredibly proud to join with community leaders, local non-profits, and private citizens throughout the region who have all stepped into the gap to provide needed food, supplies, and assistance to those still suffering. In the Florida Senate, it will be my top priority to continue to fight on their behalf and to ensure that the people of the Forgotten Coast and the surrounding communities will never be forgotten.”
Gadsden County Commissioner Brenda Holt has worked tirelessly to serve the people of her county in their recovery and has worked in partnership with Representative Loranne Ausley on these efforts.
“When Republicans in Tallahassee failed to act, Loranne stepped up for this community and fought for the people of Gadsden County,” declared Commissioner Brenda Holt. “While Marva Preston says she wants to help us recover, she has been nowhere to be found putting in the hard work that we know we can count on from Loranne. We need Loranne’s continued advocacy on our behalf in the Florida Senate.”
For years, Melissa Peddie, a trained paramedic, drove the only 24-hour ambulance in Liberty County. Following Hurricane Michael, she started the non-profit Love for Liberty to help those in the county get back on their feet.
“Like many who choose to live in our rural counties here in the Panhandle, my number one reason for doing so was the sense of community it provided,” said Melissa Peddie. “When Hurricane Michael hit, the idyllic daily life we enjoyed was destroyed for thousands of families across North Florida. Every single day since, I’ve known that we had a true fighter standing up for our needs in Tallahassee in Loranne Ausley and that’s why we must elect her to the Florida Senate to continue the work she’s done helping us recover over the last two years.”
As a result of Hurricane Michael, the Panhandle’s tourism industry suffered a major blow. Kevin Lanier, the Owner/Captain of RC Sportfishing Charter in Mexico Beach, experienced firsthand the difficulties small businesses have faced since the storm.
“After the storm, we knew it would be months, if not years, until our tourism industry was able to fully recover in the Panhandle,” stated Kevin Lanier. “It is hard enough to operate a small business as it is, but many have faced years of fights with insurance companies to rebuild and, now, with the pandemic further hurting tourism, many don’t know if they can hold on any longer. Loranne went to bat for us in Tallahassee, fighting to ensure we continued to spend resources to attract tourists to the region and for our small businesses to get the assistance they needed from the federal government and that’s why she must be our next State Senator.”