Recovery

FEMA Announces $11.5 Million Reimbursement to Orange County, Texas

Construction and demolition, vegetation, computer component, appliance and household hazardous waste were all hauled away and disposed of, FEMA said in a news release.

by Kaitlin Bain, Beaumont Enterprise, Texas / December 13, 2018
A house is seen flooded in Orange County, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017, as water slowly recedes from Tropical Storm Harvey. Sunday was declared a day of prayer in Texas by Gov. Greg Abbott and across the nation by President Donald Trump. He and the first lady attended services at St. John's, an Episcopal church in Washington, a day after visiting Harvey evacuees in Houston and Louisiana. AP/Kim Brent

(TNS) - Orange County’s budget is getting much-needed relief thanks to $11.5 million in federal funds.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency this week announced the award, reimbursement for debris removal following Tropical Storm Harvey.

Orange County Emergency Management Coordinator Joel Ardoin said the county paid to pick up debris from all county residents who live outside the Orange city limits.

Construction and demolition, vegetation, computer component, appliance and household hazardous waste were all hauled away and disposed of, FEMA said in a news release.

That totaled some 600,000 cubic yards of demolition and other debris.

Those costs have been shouldered by the county, which led it to take out a line of credit while waiting for the FEMA reimbursement to be able to cover necessary expenses.

“Having to pick up that bill — $14.1 million total — pretty much stretched our budget to the extent it could go,” Ardoin said. “The county had to take out the line of credit to cover the bills and have a safety net.”

The majority of the reimbursement money has been used to pay the county’s bills and to pay down the credit line, he said. The rest is put back into the general fund.

The county’s still waiting on $1.4 million in debris removal reimbursement that hasn’t been processed yet. Ardoin expects that to come in during the first quarter of 2019.

Orange County’s also expecting to get a $1.6 million reimbursement for time spent by several agencies that worked overtime during the storm.

Ardoin said in terms of spending, Harvey recovery cost the county more than Hurricane Rita but less than Hurricane Ike.

The federal dollars come from FEMA’s public assistance grant program, which reimburses communities for actions taken in immediate response to and during disaster recovery, according to the FEMA news release.

kaitlin.bain@beaumontenterprise.com

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