Preparedness & Recovery

HUD Sending Another $791 Million to State for Irma, Matthew Recovery

About $633.5 million will support 'mitigation activities,' which HUD says 'can broadly be described as actions taken to protect communities from the predictable damage from future events.'

by Jake Martin, The St. Augustine Record, Fla. / April 13, 2018

(TNS) - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced this week it will send another $791 million in disaster recovery funds Florida's way through its Community Development Block Grant program to help homes and buildings damaged by hurricanes Irma and Matthew.

About $633.5 million will support "mitigation activities," which HUD says "can broadly be described as actions taken to protect communities from the predictable damage from future events."

Almost $550 million of that is in response to disasters from 2017 with the remainder — nearly $84 million — in response to disasters from 2016.

Close to $158 million has been set aside to restore homes, businesses and infrastructure that were damaged by the storms.

"It's clear that a number of states and local communities are still struggling to recover from a variety of natural disasters that occurred in the past three years," HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a written release. "These grants will help rebuild communities impacted by past disasters and will also protect them from major disasters in the future."

These monies are on top of the $616 million HUD sent to the state in November to help recovery efforts related solely to Irma.

According to HUD, disaster recovery grants through the CDBG program support recovery activities including housing redevelopment and rebuilding, business assistance, economic revitalization and infrastructure repair. Grantees are required to spend the majority of these recovery funds in "most impacted" areas, as identified by HUD.

HUD is expected to issue administrative guidelines shortly for use of the funds to address long-term recovery needs, particularly as it relates to housing recovery.

Joe Giammanco, the county's disaster recovery manager, told The Record on Wednesday the county has no further details yet on how the latest allocation will be distributed.

He said the state's Department of Economic Opportunity is wrapping up an action plan for the previous allocation of $616 million for Irma-related projects. He said the DEO plans to get a draft out this week that will tell the counties a little more about how it wants to administer those monies.

"Then we'll have the answers, hopefully," Giammanco said.

The county last year reeled in nearly $47 million of $58.6 million in disaster recovery funds allocated to the state after hurricanes Hermine and Matthew. The county was pegged to receive 80 percent of those funds as it was deemed the "most impacted" by Matthew in October 2016.

On the reimbursement front, Giammanco said obligated money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for Matthew is "starting to roll in pretty good." He said the county has received obligations totaling $27 million and is hoping to have $12 million in the bank by summer.

Giammanco said most of those dollars would be for debris removal, which is money the county has already spent and that they're going to get back.

"The dam broke somewhere along the line and things got going," he said. "Now we're hopefully in the final stretch for some of these bigger dollar amounts."

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