WASHINGTON COUNTY - Counties hit hard by Hurricane Michael received a relief last week - Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a two week extension for debris removal.
Still, county officials are sticking to the deadlines previously set forth by the state until more clarification comes.
"At this time, it's just a tough situation," said Washington County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Tray Hawkins. "We appreciate everything the state has done. We have not taken out any additional loans, and that's strictly due to the state's help."
The final debris pass was slated for April 15, but has been extended to May 1.
However, that does not necessarily mean the deadline to have the dumping sites cleaned up and closed out, and invoices prepared, has changed, Hawkins noted.
"Our time frame is still the same. The county is still shooting for the last day in May," Hawkins said. "We're waiting on clarification from the state."
It's also important to note that the county is prepared to pick up what is already on the right of way according to the March 15 deadline, meaning, residents should not view the additional two weeks extension as an opportunity to add more debris.
More than a half of a million cubic yards of debris in the county has been hauled since the storm.
Gov. DeSantis has proven to be a faithful friend of the Panhandle survivor communities.
Earlier this year, the governor announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency would extend the days of full reimbursement for debris clean up from five to 45 days. The pronouncement came after he met with President Donald Trump that same week at the White House to discuss the struggles of the Panhandle areas impacted by Hurricane Michael.
On March 29, he announced that FDOT will receive $9.8 million from FEMA to reimburse the cost of debris cleanup in Jackson County.
"We're thankful for any additional hours they give us to close out the sites," Hawkins added. "We understand the situation we're in."