Rally held in Florida for disaster relief from Hurricane Michael

Published: Apr. 18, 2019 at 7:14 PM EDT
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After six months without a federal disaster relief bill following Hurricane Michael, a local group decided to take matters in their own hands. Michael's Angels has spent months trying to bring attention to the needs of the hurricane-devastated area.

But just a few days ago, they made a big decision.

Michael's Angels brought their voices and their blue tarps to Tallahassee Wednesday. More than 150 were there for their rally Rally in Tally.

"It is time for some type of legislature, some type of help from our government and for more assistance for our area," Michael's Angels Member Rachel Smoker said.

The non-partisan, non-profit group of women is calling on legislators for Hurricane Michael relief funding.

"I'd like them to know the hurt that has been caused by Hurricane Michael," Michael's Angel Member Ann Marie Sale said, "specifically the pain it has caused our community and that we don't feel like we've been heard. We feel like we've been forgotten."

Lawmakers chimed in too.

"Ya'll being here puts a stake in the ground for what our community is going through," Representative Jay Trumbull, (R) District 6, said.

But State CFO and Panama City native Jimmy Patronis is optimistic.

"So there'll definitely be a relief package that comes out of the Florida Legislature this year," Patronis said. "The great thing about the Florida Legislature in comparison to the federal guys is we're nimble and we'll respond and we work together."

Aside from state funding, advocates for federal disaster supplemental funding say it is crucial in the rebuilding of Tyndall Air Force Base, housing and urban development, and long-term community development of the Panhandle. Several attempts to pass such a bill have died in Congress.

"Our people in north Florida, especially children, are suffering because of the gridlock in Washington," Senator Bill Montford, (D) District 3, said. "It's wrong. It's un-American. People need to start doing their job in Washington."

But for now…

"This is our opportunity to do exactly what you see here--demonstrate, communicate, send that positive message that we exist in Panama City and that we need the funding to do the things we need to do to restore our city," Michael's Angels Member Tracy Johnstone said.

The women now have their eyes set on rallying in the nation's capital.