RICHMOND—The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) notified Virginia November 28 that six of the 38 localities submitted for public assistance funding to reimburse damages and expenditures for Hurricane Florence response in September have been denied due to unmet eligibility requirements. The six localities include the counties of Accomack, Charlotte, Powhatan, Surry, and York, and the City of Portsmouth.
Governor Northam included the six localities along others that were impacted by the storm when initial damage assessments were collected from state agencies, local governments, institutes of higher education and/or private non-profits. FEMA reviews the submissions to determine if the damages meet criteria for public assistance. High among these criteria is the requirement that damages exceed $1.50 per Virginia citizen and $3.78 per county citizen in order for the locality’s costs to be eligible for reimbursement.
“While it is disappointing that these six localities are ineligible for this federal aid, VDEM and other state agency partners will continue working closely with these localities to support the recovery process from this storm,” said VDEM State Coordinator Jeff Stern. “We will work with the localities to determine if any additional costs have been overlooked that may make us eligible to appeal the decision to FEMA.”
More details about the six denied localities are included below:
Accomack County: Accomack County government, Department of Military Affairs, State Police and VDOT submitted initial damage assessments. However, the cost reported by VDOT for damage to a bridge could not be included as it was determined that the damage was not caused by Hurricane Florence. This dropped the jurisdiction below its per capita requirement.
Charlotte County: State Police and VDOT submitted initial damage assessments. After inspecting damages reported by VDOT to roads and bridges, the costs came in lower than initially estimated. This dropped the jurisdiction below its per capita.
Portsmouth: Portsmouth City government, Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, Department of Military Affairs, and the Port Authority submitted initial damage assessments. The joint FEMA/VDEM team reviewed all submitted cost estimates by the city but after review for eligibility, several costs decreased, dropping the jurisdiction below its per capita.
Powhatan County: Department of Military Affairs, VDOT, VDEM and Department of Corrections submitted initial damage assessments. The initial estimated costs reported by Corrections for debris removal were higher than actual projected costs. This dropped the jurisdiction below its per capita.
Surry County: Surry County government and State Police submitted initial damage assessments. The initial costs estimates submitted by the county included both eligible and ineligible costs. After removing ineligible costs, this jurisdiction dropped below its per capita.
York County: York County government, State Police, VDOT and VDEM submitted initial damage assessments. The joint FEMA/VDEM team reviewed all submitted cost estimates but after review for eligibility, this jurisdiction dropped below its per capita.
During the course of reviewing costs for Hurricane Florence, 38 total localities were reviewed as potentially eligible for reimbursements. Of those 38, six were denied and 32 moved forward. Eligible communities include:
- Charles City
- Isle of Wight
- King and Queen
- King William
- Newport News
Federal funding is available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments, and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair and replacement of facilities damaged by Hurricane Florence. Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures for all areas statewide. Private property owners must apply through their local government for potential hazard mitigation projects.
This funding may include:
- Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for debris removal and emergency protective measures taken to save lives and protect property and public health. Emergency protective measures assistance, including direct federal assistance is available to the Commonwealth, tribal and local governments, as well as certain private non-profit organizations on a cost-sharing basis.
- Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for repairing or replacing damaged public facilities, such as roads, bridges, utilities, buildings, schools, recreational areas, and similar publicly owned property, as well as certain private non-profit organizations engaged in community service activities.
- Payment of not more than 75 percent of the approved costs for hazard mitigation projects undertaken by the Commonwealth, tribal, and local governments to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural disasters.
After initial response efforts, communities must determine the amount of damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure. Localities must submit an initial damage assessment to the Virginia Emergency Operations Center, usually within 72 hours. If the damage appears significant, then a team of state and federal personnel may perform an additional assessment.
If the damages appear to meet federal criteria, the Governor may request a presidential declaration. Only the President has the authority to approve the request, and an approval is not automatic. A federal declaration must include the locality’s name in order to receive aid.
To learn more about FEMA’s public assistance program, visit https://www.fema.gov/media-
Once awarded by FEMA and the President, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management coordinates local government projects and administers the funding on behalf of FEMA. For more information, visit http://www.vaemergency.