Democratic National Committee members toured areas impacted by Hurricane Michael on Saturday to raise awareness of the slow pace of recovery and the urgent need for federal disaster relief funding.

“The damage we saw in Gulf County and throughout the Panhandle was heartbreaking,” said DNC member Terrie Rizzo. “It looks like the Hurricane hit six weeks ago, but it is six months and counting now, and it’s an epic failure.”

More than 200 days after the Category 5 storm made landfall, Panhandle communities are still waiting on federal disaster relief funding.

“The trash and debris that remain on the ground are poisoning the groundwater and putting communities at a severe risk for forest fires,” said DNC member Nikki Barnes. “Help needs to arrive immediately. It’s becoming a matter of life and death.”

Members captured images and interviews to take back to Washington, D.C. to spur action by lawmakers.

“We’re grateful to everyone working to tell our story,” said Andrea De La Vega, chair of the Gulf County Democrats, who led the tour through Gulf County. “We’re hopeful these powerful images of millions of acres of fallen timber and families who can’t find housing and blue tarps still blanketing roofs and the staggering amount of debris will have an impact.”

Judy Mount, a DNC member who resides in Jackson County, said, “We are appreciative of what the state and federal government has sought to do in our area, but it is simply not enough.

“This is a non-partisan issue that desperately needs attention and we cannot wait any longer. We need help now.”