TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (FNN) – The state of Florida has paid 82% of the total funds, almost eight billion dollars, obligated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) since 2004, according to a presentation by Kevin Guthrie, Deputy Director of Emergency Management, in the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Tourism, and Economic Development of the Florida Senate.
The total amount owed is $9.8 billion obligated under 57,189 projects, covering 26 total disasters that have hit the state.
Guthrie pointed out that $1 billion has been paid in the last year alone.
“The remaining $1.8 billion that the division is working hard to pay out is mainly reimbursement grants that cannot be paid until the projects are at least partially complete,” he explained.
Obligated funds are those awarded to an applicant by FEMA for an approved project, and can be either emergency or permanent work. The latter fall into two categories: debris removal and emergency protective measures.
“Permanent work is the restoration of roads, bridges, water control facilities, building equipment, utilities, parks, recreational and other facilities,” Guthrie explained. “This is where we see the biggest slowdown in FEMA’s process. A water control facility, a wastewater treatment plant must be rebuilt, that takes a lot of rebuilding.”
A twelve-month extension can be requested, and the state did so for hurricanes Irma in 2017 and Michael in 2018.
Also, counties and cities can phase out projects. “It’s something that people that have been impacted by disasters a lot will do. There are counties that may get hit once every 20 years that are not so good at phasing,” he said.
Juan Carlo Rodriguez is a politics and entertainment reporter for Florida National News. | email@example.com