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State Emergency Chief in Charge of FEMA Funding Resigns

April 24, 2018

For Immediate Release

Contact: Sebastian Kitchen

502) 689-0091

ICYMI: Politico: State Emergency Chief in Charge of FEMA Funding ResignsScott administrator resigns as Florida communities still await $3.6 billion in hurricane help Rick Scott’s emergency management chief resigned Tuesday after the administration “instituted a policy that slowed the application process for local governments to obtain federal disaster recovery dollars,” according to Politico. Florida communities are still awaiting more than $3.5 billion as the Scott administration has bungled the distribution of FEMA funds to help local governments recover and rebuild from Hurricanes Irma and Matthew, dating back to 2016. In response to Rick Scott’s emergency management chief resigning on Tuesday, Florida Democratic Party spokesman Sebastian Kitchen released the following statement: “Rick Scott’s self-serving politics and the mismanagement by his administration have left communities throughout the state of Florida without the resources needed to recover from these major disasters. Scott not only had political cronies running key departments that respond to disasters, but he personally failed nursing homes when he gave them his number during a hurricane, did not answer the calls and 12 seniors tragically died when the nursing home never received the help they needed, and he erased the voicemails pleading for assistance.”   Politico Headline: State emergency chief in charge of FEMA funding resigns

  • “Wheeler’s departure comes at a time when cities, counties, school districts and state agencies are awaiting more than $3.6 billion from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help cover the cost of damages caused by Hurricane Irma, which pummeled much of the state last September.”

  • “To date, Florida has received only $39 million through FEMA’s Public Assistance Grant Program, far less than the billions of dollars given to other states and U.S. territories hit during last last year’s storm season.”

  • “The policy forced local governments to raid cash reserves to cover immediate tasks such as debris removal.”

  • Wheeler “resigned Tuesday after spending eight months on the job.”

Background on Scott Administration’s Poor Handling of the Response to Hurricanes: State Mandate Prohibiting Advance Payments From FEMA Left Dozens Of Cities, Counties, And School Districts Waiting To Receive Nearly $4 Billion In Hurricane Irma Disaster Relief. “A state mandate to prohibit advance payments from the Federal Emergency Management Agency has left dozens of cities, counties and school districts waiting months to receive nearly $4 billion in federal funds to pay recovery costs from last fall’s Hurricane Irma.  FEMA had only issued $38.7 million as of Monday through its Public Assistance Grant Program, which provides reimbursements to municipalities and some private nonprofit groups impacted by natural disasters. The amount paid is less than 1 percent of the $3.6 billion in requests made after Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys on Sept. 10.” [POLITICO, 4/3/18]   Division Of Emergency Management “Failed To Meet A Crucial Federal Deadline That Would Help Communities Pay To Fix Damage From Hurricane Matthew.” “The Florida Division of Emergency Management failed to meet a crucial federal deadline that would help communities pay to fix damage from Hurricane Matthew… The Federal Emergency Management Agency had initially denied several claims for help from counties impacted by the late fall storm. Those governments submitted appeals within a federally enforced 60-day window. Serving as a liaison for the claims, the state DEM was to submit those appeals on behalf of the counties but failed to do so in time.” [Naples Daily News, 8/30/17] The Missed Deadline Jeopardizes Claims Include Those From Flagler, Volusia And Brevard Counties. “Jeopardized claims included those from Flagler and Volusia counties. Brevard County could lose up to $300,000.” [Naples Daily News, 8/30/17] The Missed Claims Were Only A “Small Fraction” Of The Claims The Agency Had Failed To File After Previous Storms. “The DEM employees were fired in the wake of the incident; however, the missed claims from the 2016 storms were a "small fraction" of the 26 the agency failed to file since 2004, DEM spokesman Alberto Moscoso said. Moscoso said DEM is working with FEMA to make sure the appeals are considered.” [Naples Daily News, 8/30/17

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