Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Virginia will get back most of what it spent on Hurricane Florence. Virginia Beach, not so much

VIRGINIA BEACH — Virginia’s request for a major disaster declaration to speed aid from FEMA and other federal aid to the state for the impacts of Hurricane Florence has been approved by President Donald Trump.

The federal funding is available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments, and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis, according to a news release from Gov. Ralph Northam’s office.

Henry, King and Queen, Lancaster, Nelson, Patrick, Pittsylvania, and Russell counties, as well as the cities of Newport News, Richmond, and Williamsburg will receive portions of the federal funding for emergency work and the repair and replacement of facilities damaged by Hurricane Florence.

The City of Virginia Beach, however, will not receive any of that money.

“Virginia Beach’s expenditures did not meet the threshold to receive public assistance,” said Erin Sutton, director of Virginia Beach’s Office of Emergency Management.

That threshold is $3.68 per person, according to FEMA’s website.

“Every locality has this number and you multiply it by the current population and that is the threshold for each locality in Virginia,” Sutton said.

The City of Virginia Beach spent nearly $547,518 preparing for Hurricane Florence, according to a list of the city’s expenditures obtained through a FOIA request. The city needed to spend more than $2 million to reach the $3.68 per person threshold based on its current population, which is more than 450,000 according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

That means the city spent 82 cents per person — well short of the $3.68 federal requirement.

A month after Hurricane Matthew struck Hampton Roads in October 2016, FEMA approved $2,644,381 for Virginia Beach after the city spent more than $51.8 million in damages.

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