State awards $9 million for Gulf County roads, stormwater improvements
On Jan. 31, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the award of grants totalling more than $404 million for 113 environmental projects statewide as part of the second wave of the state’s Resilient Florida Grant Program.
This included a $9 million grant for road repairs and stormwater improvements in Gulf County, the third grant the county has received through the program.
County Administrator Michael Hammond said that this grant is the latest piece of state funding aimed at making infrastructure improvements to help with Gulf County’s storm readiness.
“There’s a lot of money that’s going to be flowing in the next couple of years,” he said. “It started at the Hurricane, and it didn’t come as fast as a lot of people wanted. It didn’t come as fast as I wanted. But between Hazard Mitigation (grants) and a couple of these Florida Resilience Grants and the CDBGR (funding), we could be talking about $50 million to $70 million in projects coming to Gulf County.”
The county’s two prior grants through the program were awarded to the county when the governor debuted the initial Statewide Flooding Resilience Plan in December, hoping to improve the state’s preparedness for climate change, rising sea levels and natural disasters.
One of these grants aims to create a new water plant in White City, and the other focuses on relocating the county’s existing water treatment facility.
The state’s total investment through both waves of the program is more than $730 million so far. To date, Gulf County has been awarded more than $44 million through Resilient Florida grants.
As of December, the county had applied six projects for funding through the program.
Hammond said the money from the third grant will be aimed largely at areas with documented damages that are still in need of repair after Hurricane Michael.
“The general area’s going to be Highland View, St. Joe Beach, Beacon Hill and a little bit of Oak Grove on the road damage,” he said. “And then the same areas for stormwater, including Overstreet stormwater.”
Clayton Smallwood, the county’s engineer, said that the county has spent several years cataloging storm damages in these neighborhoods as part of the FEMA process, which he believes strengthened the county’s Resilient Florida application for the project.
“We had a pretty good idea of what the damages were and what those costs were,” Smallwood said. “So when it came time to apply for this Resilient Florida money, we had a pretty good backlog of information to pull from.”
The money for the Resilient Florida grants will be paid out to the County over a three year period. For a breakdown of these timelines, view the governor’s website at https://www.flgov.com/2022/02/01/governor-ron-desantis-announces-award-of-more-than-404-million-for-113-projects-through-the-resilient-florida-grant-program/#:~:text=In%20his%20proposed%20budget%20for,sea%20level%20rise%20and%20flooding.&text=Since%20taking%20office%2C%20Governor%20DeSantis,make%20Florida’s%20communities%20more%20resilient.