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Mexico Beach Hires PR Firm, Engineers for Disaster Recovery Team


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MEXICO BEACH, Fla. - Those in hard-hit Mexico Beach are recovering from the storm one day at a time. After Hurricane Michael, city leaders hired a disaster recovery team made up of public relations professionals and engineers. 

Recovery in the city won't be quick, easy, -- or free. The city hired global disaster recovery specialist, Atkins Engineering, and Salter Mitchell, a public relations firm based in Tallahassee, to lead recovery and communication efforts in the city. "We want to be an example of what a small town can do in the recovery effort," April Salter, the PR firm's CEO, said.

"I worked with Hurricane Andrew, tornadoes, fires [and] floods. More importantly, I have been invested in Mexico Beach for many, many years. I know this community," Salter said. She owns rental homes in the small town herself, and has decades of experience working in communications for the state of Florida. She said Florida Taxwatch has agreed to help the city with an economic study.

Mexico Beach's interim city administrator, Tanya Castro, told News 13 the city expects to be reimbursed by FEMA for some, but not enough, of the recovery costs, like this contract between Atkins Engineering and Salter Mitchell. We asked for the details of the contract, including the expected extent and cost, but Castro declined our request for an interview. 

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To help the city pay for recovery costs, the team is also organizing fundraisers.

"Anything that we can do to help pay the cost for this recovery. Mexico Beach certainly can't afford a big chunk of this recovery coming out of their budget," Salter said. 

She said her firm has improved the city's communications online and social media sites since Hurricane Michael made landfall. "Because in the aftermath of a storm, it's just chaotic," she said. The firm is also organizing community meetings to help locals get their lives back on track.

"Public information is not just about telling people what's happening, but it's also anticipating what we're going to need as a community and making sure that those needs are fulfilled," Salter said.

The city will hold a special meeting to further discuss recovery efforts on Tuesday afternoon.

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