Commissioners get an update on individual assistance

At today’s agenda review, Commissioner Doug Underhill asked his county administrator, “What is the public response to the fairly aggressive requests that we’ve had for their personal stories to be sent to Are the stories helpful?”

He also wanted to know what is the threshold for getting individual assistance from FEMA.

“I would say that there is not a threshold,” replied Administrator Janice Gilley. “We have been told on numerous occasions that this is a subjective decision at the federal level.”

The administrator said residents provided over 1500 stories, about 20 gigabytes. She added, “I’ve been told that that has been received at the federal and the state level.”

Gilley shared the Florida Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz had notified her that Santa Rosa County had finally received FEMA’s approval for public assistance. She shared, “He said, ‘I know that your community is desperately wanting the individual assistance, but these things are happening very slowly right now.’”

She added, “What I would say is that our community has to continue to share the information and we do need to continue to share our stories. I have been in constant communication, as I know many of you have with our federal delegation. They are all continuing to ask the federal FEMA director and the White House for support in this particular assistance. So that is where we stand.”

The county administrator said the citizens continue to share their stories with our federal partners as well and the state.

“The idea that the federal government would have a public assistance to citizens is subjective and that there’s not a standard is appalling quite frankly,” said Commissioner Underhill. “That’s not how good government is done, and it just reeks us and it creates the environment in which people can cry favoritism.”