FOLEY – The city of Foley is set to gain almost $1 million after Congress on March 22 authorized FEMA to up reimbursements for Hurricane Sally damage to 90 percent.
“Hurricane Sally recovery, until recently, had been funded at the rate of 75 percent federal, 12.5 percent state and 12.5 local municipal or county,” Foley City Administrator Michael Thompson said. “That is very good news because it means it saves the city 7.5 percent of the cost of recovery from the storm as well as the state 7.5 percent. For us, and although the numbers are still moving around, 7.5 percent should amount to around $1 million of additional reimbursement than what we were originally expecting.”
Most of the projects Foley applied for have been paid to the tune of about $11.1 million, some are still pending, some have been denied and some are on appeal.
“We have been working to close out eighteen separate projects with FEMA over the course of the Sally recovery, most of which have been closed out, and paid out by the FEMA at 75 percent,” Thompson said. “Twelve have been approved, closed, and paid out. One is still pending a decision, and five have been denied. Two of the five denials are on appeal.”
The largest of those projects was $8.5 million for citywide debris removal in Sally’s aftermath. The projects denied by FEMA were worth about $709,000 with the largest for “Emergency Protective Measures” at $415,000 with FEMA’s portion at $311,000. Projects under review by FEMA with no problems yet identified could net the city $1.7 million in federal funds.
“No timetable has been set on when the additional 15 percent coverage will be paid by FEMA, but eventually it will be,” Thompson said. “FEMA payment is sent to the state and then the state sends the local share to the local governing body and this additional 15 percent has not yet been received by the state for redistribution.”
Thompson says FEMA and the state use a different pay method and state portion won’t be received until all the approved projects are completed.
“We have not yet received any state money, their now 5 percent, because unlike FEMA, who pays out project by project upon each projects individual approval, the state chooses to pay out their share all at once when all projects have made it through the process and each have been deemed approved or denied,” Thompson said.
Gulf Shores EMA Director Brandan Franklin says his city has already received $8.5 million from FEMA and only about $50,000 is outstanding.
“While we are still awaiting the final approvals, we anticipate somewhere between $6 million-$7 million in FEMA funding for the beach restoration work and $450,000 for direct administration cost reimbursement,” Franklin said. “That claim has yet to be filed.”
In Orange Beach, Deputy Coastal Resources Director Nicole Woerner said FEMA change will net the city an extra $2 million on current projects and will also affect the upcoming beach renourishment.
“For Hurricane Sally, the initial debris removal project resulted in the city being reimbursed $5 million,” Woerner said. “With this adjustment, an additional check will be coming to the city in the amount of $1 million. All projects, including Waterfront Park Pier, will be reimbursed 95 percent total with 90 percent federal share and 5 percent state share. This will result in the city receiving additional funds that were not anticipated to the tune of a $2 million additional dollars in reimbursement from Hurricane Sally.”Baldwin County Chief Financial Officer Cian Harrison said the new FEMA payout plan will mean an additional $5 million-$6 million for the county.