Issues of Interest

HURRICANE MICHAEL UPDATE Fortunately for the Florida Panhandle, Hurricane Barry made landfall on July 13th along Louisiana’s central coast, pouring inches of rain in the already flooded region. The Panhandle continues to struggle with recovery, nine months after Category 5 Hurricane Michael made landfall at Mexico Beach.The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation has estimated that insured losses from Hurricane Michael were $6,654,241,887. As of June 28th, 147,877 claims had been filed; the majority are from Bay County, which submitted 88,692 claims.

On June 6th, President Donald Trump signed into law a long-awaited $19.1 billion disaster-relief package. The money is expected to assist communities in more than 40 states impacted by hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes, wildfires, volcanic activity and earthquakes. The U.S. Department of Defense will receive $2.7 billion to repair and replace a number of installations, including Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City. The disaster-relief package also includes $4.5 billion for agriculture-related losses nationwide. Florida anticipates getting $480 million for forest restoration. The timber industry in Florida sustained an estimated $1.3 billion in losses. Governor DeSantis activated the Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program for Agricultural Producers impacted by the hurricane and since January 8th, the Florida Division of Emergency Management has awarded more than $600 million in recovery funding for hurricanes Michael, Irma, Matthew and Hermine.

New homebuyer programs will also add to the relief. Florida’s Homeownership Loan Program will offer a favorable 30-year fixed rate first mortgage and up to $15,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance for qualified home buyers. A second program, the Homeownership Pool Program, created a $1 million pool of federal funds to be made available to Hurricane Michael impacted counties for new single-family housing. Home builders who participate in this program can use up to $35,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance loans to help home buyers qualify to purchase these new homes. Details may be found here

HURRICANE POWER RESTORATION Federal tax savings totaling $575 million from settlement agreements can be used by Duke Energy Florida and Tampa Electric Company to cover the costs of restoring power after Hurricane Irma and other major storms. The Public Service Commission voted unanimously to approve the settlement as the application of the tax savings avoids added storm charges for consumers.