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Boca Raton battles FEMA for reimbursement of hurricane funds

Posted: 7:12 PM, Aug 13, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-14 06:14:25-04
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BOCA RATON, Fla. — It's not unusual to see Beverly Leither gardening. She remembers what happened to the yards of her neighbors after Hurricane Irma two years ago.

"Trees were coming down during that hurricane. And when it was over, there were piles of leaves and branches. But they were neatly piled, people knew to pile them by the road. They weren't there for days. The city is pretty good about picking them up," she said.

Boca Raton council member Andy Thomson agrees.

"We remove a lot of debris, we have our fire rescue and police officers work overtime. And a lot of those costs that the city pays right out front when there's a hurricane will eventually get reimbursed."

The city submitted its reimbursement to FEMA for $8.4 million from Hurricane Irma, but FEMA said it would withhold $4.6 million because of a different hurricane.

"They want to claw back some of the money that they had paid us the city for Hurricane Wilma 14 years ago. The debate dispute really revolves around whether certain debris should have been removed," said Thomson.

The city appealed twice and was denied. The council member believes something can still be done.

"All we ask from the federal government is that they give us our fair share," said Thomson.

Thomson says he plans to speak with local state legislators to fight on behalf of the city.