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Democrats Slam Trump's Inaction on Disaster Relief for the Panhandle

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In advance of the president's campaign rally, the Florida Democratic Party hosted a press call with U.S. Representatives Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Darren Soto, along with Walton County State Committeewoman Samantha Herring. The speakers discussed Trump and the Republican Party's inaction to provide federal disaster relief to the Florida Panhandle — nearly seven months after Hurricane Michael devastated the area.

The residents of the Florida Panhandle were hard hit by Hurricane Michael:

  • Hurricane Michael was a category 5 hurricane — one of only four to hit the mainland United States — and devastated the Florida Panhandle nearly 7 months ago. The last category 5 hurricane to hit the mainland United States was Hurricane Andrew in 1992. By comparison, Hurricane Katrina was a category 3 when it made landfall.
  • Hurricane Michael created $6 billion in damages for residents in the Florida Panhandle.
  • Tyndall Air Force Base was devastated by Hurricane Michael. Lack of disaster relief funds have resulted in a halt of reconstruction efforts on the base.
  • In Mexico Beach alone, 75–80 percent of the area's buildings were destroyed by the hurricane.


U.S. Representative Darren Soto

"We saw the House Democratic majority lead the way in February, with a $14 billion disaster relief package. While Republicans in the Senate dilly dally, bicker, and ultimately produce no product after all this time. Meanwhile, the Panhandle gets worse and worse and further and further into both depression and inability to rebuild in any respectable manner. And how did we get here? President Trump is willing to sacrifice Florida disaster relief to further his personal vendetta against Puerto Rico."

U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz

"The bottom line here is Florida's Panhandle doesn't need a political rally, it needs the Senate to pass, and the president to sign, some federal government relief. The House passed a recovery bill that has been sitting in the Senate for months. And my question is, how long do these communities have to wait?"

"President Trump has a lot of fancy words and a lot of fluff for folks in the Panhandle, that were hit by those hurricanes, but he never even bothered to propose an emergency supplemental. What I want to make sure the President Trump gets asked today, when he does his political stunt in the Panhandle, is why didn't he propose emergency funding to save the economy, and save the military base in the Florida Panhandle?"

Walton County State Committeewoman Samantha Herring

"The folks who need this help are not Democrats or Republicans, they are Floridians."

"The issues that are of urgent need are things like affordable housing, support for small businesses that have been left fledgling in the wind, debris removal, that is creating all kinds of rodent and local problems."