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Sha'Ron James


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County residents have received $7.5 million in direct relief from FEMA since Matthew

 

Date: March 28, 2017
Source: The St. Augustine Record
Author:  Jared Keever

 

Residents of St. Johns County who found themselves in need of help in the wake of Hurricane Matthew have received a significant portion of federal dollars allocated through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Individual Assistance program.

A news release from FEMA and Florida’s State Emergency Response Team last week said FEMA provided $19.8 million in “Individual Assistance grants” following the October storm that brought severe flooding and beach erosion to portions of St. Johns County.

Of that, just more than $7.5 million — almost 40 percent — came here, St. Johns County Emergency Management Director Linda Stoughton said Monday.

Money in the IA program can go to help pay for temporary housing, home repairs and personal property losses, as well as, to a lesser extent, dental, medical and other “serious disaster-related expenses not covered by insurance,” the release said.

St. Johns County was one of only nine counties where the IA program was offered to residents. The others were Brevard, Duval, Flagler, Indian River, Putnam, Nassau, Seminole and Volusia counties.

Money from that program was only a portion of what those counties, and others throughout the state, have received from state and federal programs, according to the release that said the total figure has now topped $295 million.

Numbers in the release were current as of March 20.

The total includes slightly more than $172 million paid in insurance claims settled by the National Flood Insurance Program as well as $76.6 million in “low-interest disaster loans” paid by the Small Business Administration, which is the federal government’s primary source of money for “long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property,” the release said.

How much of the money has come to St. Johns County was not entirely clear as of Monday, though.

Stoughton said she had requested the county’s total for the SBA money, but had not yet received it. The FEMA representative who sent out the news release was not able to provide a county breakdown for the NFIP numbers to The Record by press time. Other numbers in the $295 million total touted in the release included $3 million in engineering assistance as well as $24.7 million sent to 18 counties as part of FEMA’s Public Assistance program, which helps communities pay for the repair of infrastructure damaged in the storm as well helping defray cleanup costs.

Stoughton said the county has not finished submitting its requests for money available through that program and the total figure for the state is definitely expected to grow.

“All of it hasn’t been approved yet,” she said of the process. “We have $18 million in debris (removal) alone.”

She said at least one other county mentioned during a recent conference call that they, too, are looking at a similar figure, just for handling storm debris.

“That number has a long way to climb,” she said.