By Dawn Krebs
ST. LUCIE COUNTY - At the end of August, Hurricane Isaac blew through St. Lucie County as a tropical storm, but the resulting winds and heavy rains left millions in damage. Damage, at first, that wasn't recognized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
But, on Oct. 18, President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration that covered 11 counties in the state damaged by Isaac, after Gov. Rick Scott appealed the government's initial disaster decision. The additional counties included St. Lucie County.
"Right now, we have more than $2 million in damages," said Thomas Daly, the St. Lucie County coordinator for the division of emergency management. "We actually had to appeal twice to receive the funding."
Once a county has been recognized as a declared county, that means local government and nonprofit agencies can receive reimbursement for the cost of repairing any damages caused by the tropical storm.
But the funding is only for government and nonprofit infrastructure, not businesses or homeowners. In addition, the monies will only cover 75 percent of the eligible costs.
"We didn't qualify for individual assistance for this storm," Mr. Daly said.
The FEMA program provides grant assistance for debris removal, as well as repairing or replacing public facilities such as roads, bridges and buildings.
But it might be some time before the local governments will see any funding.
"It is strictly reimbursement," Mr. Daly said. "Receiving the grant funds depends on a variety of factors, such as how quickly the paperwork is filled out. The process can take a couple of years."
The process for reimbursement began in St. Lucie County when an applicant briefing was held on Oct. 31.
Governmental agencies and nonprofits that were affected by the tropical storm came together at an applicant briefing to go over the process of applying for the funds and how to completely fill out the paperwork. A more formal meeting will officially take place at a later date.
"We are pleased that FEMA recognized the legitimacy of our request and granted assistance for Florida's communities impacted by Hurricane Isaac," said Gov. Scott in a press release. "This assistance will allow the communities to successfully recover from those impacts."