According to details obtained from Meredith L. Breidenstein, CPA – Director of Budget & Performance Management for the City of St Augustine, the books for these killer storms are still largely open and there is much work remaining to be done. Our local reporters followed up on the collection results by the City on about $20.7 million in preliminary claims estimated against the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the State of Florida.
Historic City News lost everything in our downtown newsroom to knee-deep flooding suffered during the storm’s wake. For fifteen-months, we worked under temporary and transient conditions; utilizing space at the public library, courthouse, city hall, and anywhere we could find available Wi-Fi for our operations. It was not until the first of this year that we re-established a more permanent base of operations.
“For Hurricane Matthew, we have all fifteen of our projects in the system. Eleven of the fifteen projects have been obligated and ten of those eleven projects have either been paid, or partially paid,” Breidenstein summarized. “The remaining large projects yet to be obligated are the Marina repairs (the breakwater) and the Lighthouse Fishing Pier.”
The City of St Augustine’s total claim for Hurricane Matthew is $13.3 million. The City has collected $1,736,176 of $4.2 million in various claims for Hurricane Matthew. An additional, specified $9.1 million has been claimed for the lift station project. Although the lift station project is obligated, those funds are yet to be spent by the City. Reimbursement will follow down the road.
Breidenstein says that her office speaks to the State weekly about the status of the remaining Hurricane Matthew projects and payments.
Hurricane Matthew first struck St Augustine in October 2016, causing devastating property and financial losses. Less than one-year later, in September 2017, Hurricane Irma revisited the area; only to destroy many restoration projects still underway. Mitigation was slow, resources were short in supply and high in demand.
The City’s total claim for Hurricane Irma is not yet finalized because Breidenstein’s office and others are still working on the development of projects. She did reveal that the preliminary numbers total $7.4 million.
“For Hurricane Irma, we have two of our projects in the system. One of those has been obligated. We have not received payment for any projects, so far,” Breidenstein reported. “We speak to FEMA multiple times per week about our projects; all of which are being worked by either City Staff, FEMA, or the State.”