Because the storm did not lead to a disaster declaration, Flagler may not be eligible for FEMA reimbursement.
Flagler County spent approximately $425,000 on expenses related to Hurricane Dorian, including the manpower costs associated with keeping the county’s Emergency Operations Center staffed around the clock for several days.
When the county dealt with Hurricanes Matthew and Irma, it was able to apply for federal reimbursement for such expenses through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA.
But this time, it may not be able to do that because unlike the previous two storms, Dorian did not lead to a formal disaster declaration. The situation has left many Florida counties, including Flagler, unsure of whether they’ll get that emergency preparation money back.
County Commission Chairman Donald O’Brien said he expected that Flagler County will be pursuing all available avenues to seek reimbursement. If the county can’t get reimbursed, though, the money will be drawn from the county’s general fund or reserves.
“If we have to rearrange some spending to accommodate this, then that’s what we need to do,” O’Brien said.
The situation has led Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to write to President Donald Trump requesting assistance for the state.
DeSantis’ letter, dated Sept. 4, noted that Trump had already issued an emergency declaration and authorized Department of Homeland Security and FEMA assistance, and that the declaration had also allowed for additional designations to be made in the future.
“Given the very real threat that Hurricane Dorian posed to Florida, I submit this request for financial assistance for eligible Category B expenses under FEMA’s Public Assistance program for the State of Florida and twenty-four counties,” DeSantis wrote. The 24 include Flagler.
The state, DeSantis wrote, had incurred approximately $157.6 million in Category B emergency protective measures, while counties had incurred approximately $39.7 million.