Much of the area -- especially Panama City -- was devastated by the Category 5 storm back in October 2018. To date, Panama City is still removing debris and picking up the pieces that were left over by the massive hurricane. Many people in the area have been looking for some long-awaited word about federal help for the those who are still struggling to rebuild their lives from the storm.
Republican lawmakers fought hard the entire session to pump funds into Northwest Florida. Leaders like Rep. Jay Trumbull were directly impacted by the Category 5 hurricane. Trumbull represents the 6th District, which includes Panama City. He was one of the GOP officials leading the charge to help rebuild that Panhandle during the 2019 legislative session -- devoting the majority of his bills to helping Bay County and the 159,266 residents that reside in his district.
Because of his efforts, Florida legislators passed a $91.1 billion state budget for the upcoming fiscal year that starts on July 1. Included in that budget was nearly $2 billion towards Hurricane Michael relief and recovery.
But even with the Republican leadership coming through for the Panhandle, some legislators say it's still not enough.
“The Panhandle was devastated and the federal government has not done its job, D.C. needs to step up,” said Sen. Rob Bradley. “So we stepped up because D.C. was not stepping up.”
While residents in the Panhandle continue to try and rebuild their homes -- and lives -- many are hoping that the federal government will provide much needed aid to help them fully recover. And while these funds have yet to come, not all hope is lost for residents of the Panhandle.
Lawmakers attending tonight's event believe that President Trump will deliver good news during tonight's event. Trumbull believes President Trump's appearance in his hometown is no mere coincidence.
"It would be surprising if he (President Trump) didn't bring good news."
Trumbull went on to say that it's "now or never" to make Northwest Florida recovery a top priority.
"The president has already eclipsed congress in providing real relief to our area in granting 45 days of 100% reimbursement. Unfortunately, this is not enough. As Congress continues to play politics with the Panhandle, our communities are still reeling from this 100 year event and we must lean on President Trump's authority to increase federal funding to our people, and funding to rebuild Tyndall Air Force Base," Trumbull told RoundTable Politics en route to tonight's event.
"Too much time has passed. President Trump needs to step up and help the good people of Northwest Florida," he continued.
Along with Trumbull, Gov. Ron DeSantis and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz are expected to attend the rally in Panama City. Together, both men met with the president on Monday to discuss hurricane recovery and ways to lower healthcare costs in the state.
President Trump visited the area back in 2016, drawing a large crowd of firebrand conservatives. While the scenery has changed since his last visit, a massive crowd is expected the show up for the event.
This time, however, they are hoping that President Trump is bringing good news.