The Washington Post story headline this weekend is Survivors of Hurricane Michael in the Florida Panhandle fear they have been forgotten while the actual headline should be"Poor white Trump voters discover how inconvenient they are to regime that has abandoned them".
FEMA said it has poured $1.1 billion into Florida in Michael-related response and recovery efforts, the bulk of that in the form of low-interest Small Business Administration loans. It has approved $141 million in individual assistance to 31,000 households affected by Michael, numbers similar to disaster relief provided to North Carolina after Florence.
But Congress has failed to pass a major disaster-relief supplemental-funding bill to pay for long-term recovery from Michael and other disasters across the country. The 35-day government shutdown delayed action initially, and then President Trump and his Republican allies clashed with Democrats over funding for hurricane recovery in Puerto Rico.
The partisanship in Washington does not sit well here on the Panhandle.
“We have as many Democrats suffering as Republicans, and we need help. We’re all in the same boat,” said Philip Griffitts, chairman of the Bay County Commission and a Republican.
Al Cathey, the mayor of Mexico Beach, said it’s “beyond my comprehension” how the federal government has failed to pass a disaster bill. Sitting on a pile of drywall outside his hardware store, Cathey surveyed the ravaged landscape.
“That whole bill is being jeopardized because of pettiness,” he said.
Down a country road in Bay County, Sam Summers, a heavy-equipment operator, and his wife, Sherry Skinner-Summers, who works with the sheriff’s department, have opened their five-acre lot to people whose houses and trailers were destroyed in the storm.
The backyard population is down to six tents from 10, occupied by families and individuals who cannot find or afford hotel rooms or apartments and pass a background check. The Summers and their donors provide the tents.
One family of four, including a 6-month-old infant, is living with the Summers in their brick rambler. More families are expected to arrive in the coming days, Summers said, based on requests his wife has fielded on social media.
FEMA said agency representatives, as well as state and county officials, visited the Summers property in mid-March and were shunned by the campers.
“On this and previous visits, all but a couple of the people refused to speak with anyone,” a FEMA spokesman said in an email.
There remains a suspicion among those in the region that the federal, state and local governments are not doing everything they should to help the recovery.
Your federal, state, and local governments are controlled by Republicans.
This is what you voted for.
This is the result.