WASHINGTON COUNTY - Hurricane Michael was upgraded Friday to a Category 5 storm, a designation that financially strapped local officials pursued to try to increase federal assistance to Northwest Florida.

The upgrade means additional funding for the impacted areas. At a previous Category 4, Federal Emergency Management Agency would cover 75 percent in reimbursements, the state would fund 12.5 percent and the county 12.5 percent. Under the new designation, officials believe the reimbursement should increase - whereas FEMA should cover 90 percent and the state 10 percent.

"That alleviates the 12.5 percent match that we had to put forward," said Washington County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Tray Hawkins. "We're still looking to the state ... to see if there's anything the federal government is going to fund differently."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that the National Hurricane Center’s post-storm analysis determined the Oct. 10 storm had an estimated intensity at landfall of 160 mph, 5 mph stronger than previously listed.

The change bumped the storm into the most-powerful classification on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

The Category 5 announcement came as the Legislature heads into budget negotiations next week with the House and Senate each proposing about $225 million in additional Michael-related funding for the fiscal year starting July 1. Meanwhile, the wait for a federal disaster relief package has stretched beyond six months.

Hawkins expressed much gratitude to the state and federal governments for the amount of financial support already promised. However, he noted, the local process to rebuild is soon to kick off.

"We have been very blessed by the state by taking the burden of the debris removal," Hawkins said. He said the unexpected costs from the storm has caused the county to spend "an exorbitant" amount of unbudgeted upfront costs, as well as planning for insurance, engineering, and construction fees for future rebuilding.

"We're still in a rebuilding process in Washington County - that's going to continue," he said. And next month the public works department will begin "a very intensive process" to turn temporary repairs into completed road projects.

The Category 5 announcement came as the Legislature heads into budget negotiations next week with the House and Senate each proposing about $225 million in additional Michael-related funding for the fiscal year starting July 1. Meanwhile, the wait for a federal disaster relief package has stretched beyond six months.

The change Friday made Michael the first Category 5 storm to hit the U.S. since Hurricane Andrew came ashore in South Florida in 1992.

The only other Category 5 storms to make landfall in the U.S. are the Labor Day storm of 1935 and Hurricane Camille, which hit Pass Christian, Miss., in 1969.

The hurricane center held Michael’s atmospheric pressure --- a measure of a storm’s intensity --- at 919 millibars at landfall, the third lowest on record for a U.S. landfall since 1900.