FEMA denies Florida federal assistance after Sandy seriously eroded beaches

$70 million in assistance turned down

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. - Federal money will not help restore Florida beaches battered by Hurricane Sandy. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is denying a state request for more than $70 million in assistance.

It's not easy for longtime Boynton Beach resident Tom Warnke to see the erosion at Oceanfront Park.

"I moved here when I was eight-years-old, and this is the worst erosion I've ever seen," says Warnke.

An avid surfer and self-proclaimed environmentalist, Warnke knows Mother Nature can be brutal. Beach visitors now have to climb where the erosion is the worst.

Despite hundreds of feet of shoreline swallowed up by Hurricane Sandy, FEMA says it's not enough to constitute federal aid.

"They didn't feel the state couldn't handle it on it's own, and I'm sure that's in light of the billions of dollars worth of damage in the northeast," says Leanne Welch, a Shoreline Program Supervisor with Palm Beach County.

Martin, Indian River, St. Lucie and Palm Beach Counties asked for more than $32 million combined, but were all denied. Welch says they may appeal that decision, but there's also a backup plan.

"We'll have to scale back some of our projects we had planned, maybe not put as much sand out as we had hoped to," says Welch.

Warnke says he understands why FEMA's priority is in the northeast.

"It makes sense considering all the damage up north," says Warnke.

He says local beaches should be a local responsibility.

The state now has 30 days to appeal the FEMA's denial.

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