Scott's administration lays out federal requirements for reimbursement for damage to estuary, lagoon

READ LETTERS TO MARTIN, ST. LUCIE COUNTY BELOW

Gov. Rick Scott's administration laid out the federal requirements Wednesday if Martin and St. Lucie counties want reimbursement for damage done to the St. Lucie Estuary. And since economic impact wouldn't be factored in, it could prove a tough case to argue.

The Florida Division of Emergency Management spelled out the Federal Emergency Management Agency requirements Wednesday in a letter sent to each county. Local waterway-oriented companies have lost plenty of business because of the Lake Okeechobee discharges polluting the estuary and Indian River Lagoon. FEMA's Public Assistance and Individual Assistance programs, however, do not consider economic impact a "direct factor in FEMA's overall consideration" for the declarations, the letter states.

Division of Emergency Management Director Bryan W. Koon instead wrote that a different program offering low-interest loans for businesses and individuals "may be more applicable to the current situation."

Martin and St. Lucie counties have both recently passed resolutions asking Scott to declare a state of emergency for the lagoon.


 


LETTER TO ST. LUCIE COUNTY


September 13, 2013

St. Lucie County Board of County Commissioners
The Honorable Tod Mowery, Chair
2300 Virginia Avenue
Ft. Pierce, FL 34982

Re: Process for Obtaining a Declaration of Major Disaster through FEMA
Dear Chairman Mowery:

It is my understanding that St. Lucie County may consider seeking a Declaration of Major
Disaster fi'om the Federal Emergency Management Agency (F EMA), due to the threat of economic
impact to the local community because of water releases fi'om Lake Okeechobee. Typically,
disaster declarations fall under the auspices of the Stafford Act (PL 93-288, as amended). Below is
information regarding the process for seeking a Major Disaster Declaration.

FEMA's Public Assistance program allows for the reimbursement of eligible costs to
governmental agencies, as well as to some private non-profit entities that provide govermnental-
like services. Under the Public Assistance program, reimbursable expenses are those costs
necessary for implementing debris removal and emergency protective operations, as well for
completing permanent repairs to physically damaged facilities of eligible applicants. Loss of
revenue and increased operating expenses are not eligible for reimbursement (see FEMA 322/June
2007, page 54).

A county or jurisdiction requesting assistance through the Public Assistance program first
conducts a series of Initial Damage Assessments (IDAS) within the affected area. Through the IDA
process, the requesting jurisdiction s1n'veys the affected area and develops a list of the eligible
damage caused by the disaster event. Once the IDA is completed, a Preliminary Damage
Assessment (PDA) team comprised of federal, state, and local team members will resurvey the
area. The goal of the PDA is to obtain agreement between the three levels of government to the
amount of eligible damage received by the impacted community in the disaster event. The amount
of eligible damage agreed upon through the PDA process will be reviewed in respect to the total
statewide threshold, which is currently just under $26 million for the State of Florida. In the event
that the threshold is met, the State, on behalf of its local governments, may determine the need to
seek a Major Disaster Declaration. The counties in the impacted area that meet the countywide
threshold will typically be included in the request for declaration for Public Assistance. An
important thing to remember is that only eligible damage may be used to satisfy the countywide
and statewide threshold requirement. Loss of revenue and increased operating expenses are not
eligible forms of damage.

FEMA's Individual Assistance program is designed to allow for money and other forms of
aid to flow to individuals and households that have been impacted by a disaster event. The process
for obtaining an Individual Assistance declaration begins with an IDA and PDA process similar to
that for Public Assistance. For an Individual Assistance declaration, the damage assessments are
designed to show overall need within the community, with housing needs being the single most-
important factor to determine whether or not an Individual Assistance declaration shall be issued.
A list of the factors. currently utilized as part of the Individual Assistance declaration request
process may be found in 44 CFR 206.48. As with the Public Assistance program, it is worth
noting that economic impact is not a direct factor in FEMA's overall consideration for an
Individual Assistance declaration.

Seeking a Public Assistance or Individual Assistance declaration under the Stafford Act is a
defined process with specific requirements that must be met on both the county and state level.
Another type of disaster related assistance that may be more applicable to the current situation is
the Small Business

Administration's (SBA's) Disaster Loan Program, authorized under 13 CFR
123. This program offers low-interest loans for individuals and businesses under two different loan
programs: Physical Damage Loans and Economic Injury Loan. While the Department of Economic
Opportunity is Florida's lead agency in obtaining an SBA declaration, the Division of Emergency
Management stands ready to help coordinate any SBA-specific damage assessments that might be
necessary.

I would recommend contacting your county emergency management director to provide
additional information on the process for requesting a Major Disaster declaration.

Sincerely,


Bryan W. Koon
Director

LETTER TO MARTIN COUNTY

September 18, 2013

Martin County Board of County Commissioners
The Honorable Sarah Heard, Chair

2401 SE Monterey Road

Stuart, FL 34996

Re: Process for Obtaining a Declaration of Major Disaster through FEMA
Dear Chairwoman Heard:

It is my understanding that Martin County may consider seeking a Declaration of Major
Disaster from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), due to the threat of economic
impact to the local community because of water releases from Lake Okeechobee. Typically,
disaster declarations fall under the auspices of the Stafford Act (PL 93-288, as amended). Below is
information regarding the process for seeking a Major Disaster Declaration.

FEMA's Public Assistance program allows for the reimbursement of eligible costs to
governmental agencies, as well as to some private non-profit entities that provide govermnental-
like services. Under the Public Assistance program, reimbursable expenses are those costs
necessary for implementing debris removal and emergency protective operations, as well for
completing permanent repairs to physically damaged facilities of eligible applicants. Loss of
revenue and increased operating expenses are not eligible for reimbursement (see FEMA 322/June
2007, page 54).

A county or jurisdiction requesting assistance through the Public Assistance program first
conducts a series of Initial Damage Assessments (IDAs) within the affected area. Through the IDA
process, the requesting jurisdiction surveys the affected area and develops a list of the eligible
damage caused by the disaster event. Once the IDA is completed, a Preliminary Damage
Assessment (PDA) team comprised of federal, state, and local team members will resurvey the
area. The goal of the PDA is to obtain agreement between the three levels of govemment to the
amount of eligible damage received by the impacted community in the disaster event. The amount
of eligible damage agreed upon through the PDA process will be reviewed in respect to the total
statewide threshold, which is currently just under $26 million for the State of Florida. In the event
that the threshold is met, the State, on behalf of its local governments, may determine the need to
seek a Major Disaster Declaration. The counties in the impacted area that meet the countywide
threshold will typically be included in the request for declaration for Public Assistance. An
important thing to remember is that only eligible damage may be used to satisfy the countywide
and statewide threshold requirement. Loss of revenue and increased operating expenses are not
eligible forms of damage.

FEMA's Individual Assistance program is designed to allow for money and other forms of
aid to flow to individuals and households that have been impacted by a disaster event. The process
for obtaining an Individual Assistance declaration begins with an IDA and PDA process similar to
that for Public Assistance. For an Individual Assistance declaration, the damage assessments are
designed to show overall need within the community, with housing needs being the single most-
important factor to determine whether or not an Individual Assistance declaration shall be issued.
A list of the factors currently utilized as part of the Individual Assistance declaration request
process may be found in 44 CFR 206.48. As with the Public Assistance program, it is worth
noting that economic impact is not a direct factor in FEMA's overall consideration for an
Individual Assistance declaration.

Seeking a Public Assistance or Individual Assistance declaration under the Stafford Act is a
defined process with specific requirements that must be met on both the county and state level.
Another type of disaster related assistance that may be more applicable to the current situation is
the Small Business Administration's (SBA's) Disaster Loan Program, authorized under 13 CFR
123. This program offers low-interest loans for individuals and businesses under two different loan
programs: Physical Damage Loans and Economic Injury Loan. While the Department of Economic
Opportunity is F1orida's lead agency in obtaining an SBA declaration, the Division of Emergency
Management stands ready to help coordinate any SBA--specific damage assessments that might be
necessary.

I would recommend contacting your county emergency management

director to provide
additional information on the process for requesting a Major Disaster declaration.

Sincerely,

Bryan W. Koon
Director

CC: Debra McCaughey, EM Director Martin County

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