Six months after Michael and without aid bill, Panama City group pushes for help

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WJHG) -- After six months without a federal disaster relief bill following Hurricane Michael, a Panama City group has decided to take matters in their own hands.

Michael's Angels brought their voices and their blue tarps to Tallahassee Wednesday. More than 150 attended the rally.

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

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- 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," said Ann Marie Sale, a member of Michael's Angels.

Lawmakers even chimed in too.

"Y'all being here puts a stake in the ground for what our community is going through," said Rep. Jay Trumble.

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."

Besides 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 disaster funding bill, have died in Congress.

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

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

"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," said Tracy Johnstone, a member of Michael's Angels.

Our sister station in Panama City, WJHG, has announced they are working with Michael's Angels to create stories to make sure Hurricane Michael is not a forgotten storm.

The news director at the station says if a relief package is not passed before the legislative session ends, then cities and counties in the panhandle would go bankrupt.