Officials of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA) on Thursday delivered two final Long-Term Recovery Plans, designed to help guide the recovery process in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.
The basis for the plans began shortly after Ivan hit the Panhandle in September 2004, when FEMA formed teams of technical specialists to help the long-term recovery efforts in both counties. Since January, engineers, architects, community planners, mitigation specialists and economic development experts have developed a portfolio of projects for local officials to consider implementing as the communities continue to recover.
Team members conducted extensive research, solicited community input at multiple public meetings and invited citizens to visit storefront locations to share their suggestions. Team members also met with state and local leaders to evaluate the long-term recovery opportunities for communities and counties.
Using the comments received from citizens and local officials, specialists finalized a Long-Term Recovery Plan for each county. The plans identify project areas that will support and promote revitalization of the area, including economic development, transportation, housing and restoring the waterfront. In addition to working with citizens and local officials to identify and prioritize projects, team members also helped to locate potential funding sources for the recovery projects.
These plans are important because they help communities focus on and prioritize projects for recovery, growth and revitalization. In addition, having such a plan, developed with a public-input process, can make the projects more appealing to potential funding sources, officials say.
“The Long-Term Recovery Initiative is an effort to help these devastated counties and their citizens continue on the road to recovery,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Bill Carwile. “I’ve witnessed the incredible optimism and enthusiastic spirit of the people of Escambia and Santa Rosa counties that is going to build them a better future.”
The Economic Development Administration (EDA), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), all potential funding sources for many of the projects, were among several federal and state agencies involved in the development of the project plans.
Plan work also was enhanced by the expertise of a Long-Term Recovery Task Force, made up of multiple state, federal and nonprofit agencies working alongside the teams to help identify potential funding sources.
“Governor Bush established a Long-Term Recovery Task Force, which will coordinate state resources and provide Escambia and Santa Rosa counties the expertise needed to help rebuild to once again become robust communities,” said Department of Community Affairs Secretary Thaddeus Cohen.
Now that the plans have been delivered, a small FEMA group will continue to work with county and city leaders to move the plans forward until long-term recovery specialists can be hired to help identify funding sources and work with local officials to implement the recovery plans. FEMA will fund the recovery specialist positions.
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