Governor Rick Scott filed a formal appeal on September 28, 2012, on behalf of Hurricane Isaac survivors throughout Florida, asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to reverse its recent decision denying public assistance to Florida. The appeal includes the original seven counties Collier, Escambia, Monroe, Okaloosa, Palm Beach and Santa Rosa, and a request for four additional counties Broward, Franklin, Martin and St. Lucie counties. Joint preliminary damage assessments conducted by local, state and federal government teams identified more than $38.4 million of damage in the 11 counties included in the appeal.
“The State’s appeal to FEMA to revisit their decision on the denial for federal assistance for Hurricane Isaac ensures Florida’s citizens and communities have all resources available to recover quickly and completely,” said Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Bryan W. Koon. “Florida surpassed the $25 million threshold in the original request for a federal declaration. The appeal includes an additional $11.6 million in damage for the four additional counties. It is my hope that FEMA will recognize the legitimacy of this request and grant a federal disaster declaration for Hurricane Isaac’s damage in Florida.”
On September 10, Governor Scott requested Public Assistance for seven of the state’s hardest hit areas, Bay, Collier, Escambia, Monroe, Okaloosa, Palm Beach and Santa Rosa counties. In FEMA’s September 19 denial letter, it was determined that the damage from Isaac was within the capabilities of the state and counties to recover. In its appeal, the State cites six factors FEMA considers when evaluating the need for Public Assistance after a disaster, including estimated cost of the assistance, localized impacts, insurance coverage in force, hazard mitigation, recent multiple disasters and programs of other Federal assistance.
The first factor, estimated cost of the assistance, is meant to ensure that the disaster receiving Federal assistance is of such size that it might warrant Federal assistance. Currently, the per-capita statewide threshold is established at $1.35 per resident of the State. Based on the 2010 census, Florida has a statewide threshold of $25,381,769. Preliminary damage assessments performed in 15 counties revealed $48,345,637 in total damage. This amount is well above the statewide threshold for Public Assistance.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Public Assistance provides grant assistance for debris removal and emergency protective measures. Costs for repair, replacement, or restoration of disaster-damaged, publicly-owned facilities can also be covered under Public Assistance.
Due to the potential impacts of Hurricane Isaac, Governor Scott signed Executive Order 12-199, declaring a statewide state of emergency on Saturday, August 25. Hurricane Isaac made landfall south of New Orleans, Louisiana on August 28, 2012, but not before impacting Florida counties. Some areas of Florida experienced record rainfall and flooding, as well as tornadoes spawned from the storm.