Chipley, Fla., Seeks $500,000 in FEMA Public Assistance

If the city is approved, the funds will come in the form of reimbursement.

by Jacqueline Bostick, Crestview News Bulletin, Fla. / April 16, 2016
This satellite image shows Hurricane Michael on Oct. 9, 2018, as it entered the Gulf of Mexico. TNS

(TNS) — At Tuesday's regular meeting, Chipley, Fla., City Council approved an agreement for public assistance funding to deal with costs associated with storm cleanup from Hurricane Michael.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency Public Assistance Funding pilot program is expected to cover more than $500,000 of associated costs.

FEMA will "approve our projects and fund our projects, like the ditch cleaning, like the debris hauling, all these signs and buildings damages," said City Administrator Dan Miner, noting insurance will also play a major role. "We're $400,000 out now, and that's where we are at today, roughly. [By the] time the projects are over ... we'll be well over half a million dollars."

The program appears to offer more relaxed rules on how the federal money can be spent. There are no requirements to rebuild on the scale prior to the disaster, funds can be shared across all projects, tracking costs to specific work items are not required, and excess funds may be used to reduce future risks.

If the city is approved, the funds will come in the form of reimbursement.

In terms of debris hauling, the city does offer free monthly services for piles that are 5 feet high and 5 feet wide. The service is offered at a fee for larger piles. With April 15 being the final day for state-run hauling, the way forward for hauling remains unclear. However, it is unlikely the county or city will contract to offer private hauling, Miner said.

"We're really looking in good shape, as far as vegetative debris," he added, noting he had personally assessed the city's development.

Also at the meeting, the council was given an engineering update on the spray field property by a representative from Mott MacDonald. According to the representative, everything appeared to follow the timeline, with groundbreaking anticipated for as early as January next year. The council also passed a motion to seek a request for inclusion in the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Loan Program, which Miner said the city is pursuing for up to $4 million in funding.

In other business, Ordinance No. 957 on noise and nuisance was approved after it passed the public hearing.
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