Flagler Beach still waiting for hurricane recovery money

By Brittany Jones, Flagler County Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, December 05, 2017, 9:46 AM EST

The City of Flagler Beach is looking forward to getting hundreds of thousands of dollars back for hurricane recovery.

  • Flager Beach waits for hurricane recovery money
  • City spending large chunk of money for recovery out-of-pocket
  • RELATED: Hurricane Matthew coverage

City Manager Larry Newsom said $260,000 will be used for staff labor costs occurred during Hurricane Matthew and also for safety inspections and damage assessment that had to be done along the beaches and roadways.

But it could still be some time before they see the rest of the Matthew recovery money and eventually reimbursement for Irma.

The city hopes it doesn't eventually put other projects in jeopardy.

“Both storms obviously took a really good chunk, took a chunk from everybody,” said Mike Ceribelli, co-owner of Frankie Alice’s Beachside Boutique.

Ceribelli said both Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane lrma impacted their business and the city of Flagler Beach.

His store saw less foot traffic after both storms and left less in the bank.

“Especially now with two hurricanes back-to-back, I think the city's feeling what the average person is feeling ... and that it just takes time to get your money reimbursed,” Ceribelli said.

More than a year later, FEMA approved the city's first reimbursement of about $260,000.

But the Flagler Beach city manager said that's only a drop in the bucket compared to the roughly $1.3 million the city spent of its own money.

That money covered debris pick up, staff labor and equipment replacements from the storm.

Fast forward 11 months after Matthew, the city is likely facing another roughly $2 million in out-of-pocket costs for Irma recovery.

All of which the city said needs to be reimbursed by FEMA.

“If it's owed to the city, the city needs that money for other things,” said Bob Nierstedt, Flagler Beach resident.

When it comes to storm recovery, the city usually uses the money kept in the fund for capital outlay projects like sidewalks, drainage and storm water system improvements.

“The city needs money to spend to get those things back to the people. So if they don't get their money back, then people don't get what they need,” Nierstedt said.

Ceribelli said those things are needed for growth and tourism.

“I would like to them get the reimbursements that they're due,” Ceribelli said.

City Manager Newsom said they still don't know when that first reimbursement will actually appear in their account. The money is being reviewed at the state level for review.

FEMA said it's working on telling Spectrum News 13 when all of the money will be released.