FEMA increasing payments for Sally damage

By Guy Busby
Government Editor
guy@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 4/1/22

FOLEY — The Federal Emergency Management Agency will be paying a larger share of the cost of Hurricane Sally, a move that will mean millions more dollars for Baldwin County and local …

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FEMA increasing payments for Sally damage

Posted

FOLEY — The Federal Emergency Management Agency will be paying a larger share of the cost of Hurricane Sally, a move that will mean millions more dollars for Baldwin County and local municipalities.

After most disasters, FEMA pays 75% of the costs of repairs, debris removal and other storm-related expenses of local governments. In Alabama, the local government and Alabama Emergency Management Agency split the remaining 25% of the cost.

Robertsdale Mayor Charles Murphy said Congress passed legislation to increase the federal reimbursement for Hurricane Sally and other recent disasters to 90%.

"We actually got notice late Tuesday afternoon that Congress has passed a bill to increase the funding allocation on FEMA and they're going to go back on natural declared disasters in 2020 and 2021," Murphy said Wednesday, March 23. "They're going to pay those at 90% instead of 75 like we received. So, what that means is that Robertsdale is about to get an additional $708,000."

He said the legislation covers disaster expenses around the country.

"I mean, that's not for Alabama, this is across the entire United States," Murphy said. "This includes Puerto Rico also. It was a bipartisan bill that was passed. And the president signed it on March 15."

Mike Thompson, Foley city administrator, said city officials are waiting to hear from the AEMA on what local governments might be compensated for funds already spent since Hurricane Sally struck in September 2020.

"We don't know what that means from the state perspective," Thompson said. "Obviously, we're hoping that the state will still split the balance, which would move each of our 12.5% down to 5%. That's what we're hoping happens, but we haven't heard that yet."

Thompson said a plan in which Foley and the state split the 10% remaining after FEMA pays 90% would give the city another $900,000.

"So, ultimately, that's a real benefit for the city," Thompson said.

Following Hurricane Sally, city and county officials criticized FEMA for the amount of time that local governments had to wait for compensation.

"I've given FEMA a lot of grief over the last few years. So, I want to give them credit as well," Thompson said. "They've come forward and upped their contribution from 75 to 90%."

Cian Harrison, Baldwin County chief financial officer, said FEMA will be paying about $10 million in reimbursements for the cost of Baldwin County's recovery from Hurricane Sally.

She said that since the state paid half of the $10 million in Baldwin County's local government share, the county should receive about $5 million to $6 million.

"No doubt, we're very happy about it," Harrison said.

She said local agencies do not know when the additional compensation will be received for expenses already paid.

"We actually haven't heard," she said Thursday, March 24. "I did call the state to ask them, and they said they're still trying to figure this out themselves. They could not give me a timeframe."

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