Storm-ravaged Panama City Coast Guard station gets full funding for reconstruction
By ED OFFLEY | The News Herald, Panama City, Fla. | Published: August 2, 2019
PANAMA CITY, Fla. (Tribune News Service) — Nine months after Hurricane Michael destroyed 85 percent of the Coast Guard's Panama City base, officials have announced plans to commit $46.7 million to rebuild the facility.
The massive disaster relief appropriation passed by Congress three months ago and signed into law by President Trump on June 6 included $526 million for the Coast Guard "to repair and upgrade facilities damaged by recent disasters," according to 2nd District Rep. Neal Dunn. Of that amount, Coast Guard officials have allocated $46.7 million for reconstruction of the Panama City station.
"This is what they (Coast Guard officials) requested," Dunn said, "so they got all of the money they needed and (the planned reconstruction) is fully funded through the supplemental" appropriation. Under the terms of the legislation, the Coast Guard has until Sept. 30, 2023, to spend the money.
Details of the rebuilding effort, including specific construction projects and a planned schedule of work, were not immediately available.
The Category 5 hurricane on Oct. 10 destroyed 85 percent of the infrastructure at the Panama City station, which is tucked into the eastern end of Naval Support Activity-Panama City on Thomas Drive. During a tour of the base in February, Officer in Charge Master Chief Anthony Kannan pointed out that only one structure — the station's administration building — survived the storm.
Officials initially feared that the rebuilding effort might take as long as eight years, since the Coast Guard lacked the same reserve funding resources that the larger military branches possess. The emergency disaster relief funds approved by Congress will now enable reconstruction work to begin when the next fiscal year starts on Oct. 1.
"Hurricane Michael devastated our military bases in the Panhandle and the supplemental funding we recently passed is a down payment to rebuilding," Dunn said. "We will continue to work with the Coast Guard to ensure that our seamen are taken care of and that necessary funding continues to flow to the areas that need it most."
A Coast Guard spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
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