“Really, it’s money already spent,” said City Manager Jim O’Reilly. “We just have to replace the money.”
The grant, issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, is expected to arrive in the next coming months.
“There are still cities that are waiting to close out,” O’Reilly said. “I was speaking to my colleague the other day, and they are still waiting for Hurricane Wilma to close out.”
A current date for the final closing of the money is unknown, but the budget amendment that was proposed to account for the granted funds was passed and adopted by city council on November 15.
“I’m sure we will have the money before the end of the next fiscal year,” said Gulfport Finance Director Cheryl Hannafin.
On September 4, 2017, Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in all Florida counties due to the arrival of Hurricane Irma.
Said O’Reilly of the local damage and cleanup, “We had [debris] pickups and such, storm impacts and wind damage.”
The city of Gulfport states that there were 9,000 cubic yards of debris following the storm, all of which was removed and destroyed by both private contractors and city staff.
According to O’Reilly, the claimed $541,345 in damages was used in the wages and overtime paid to first responders and city staff, sand bags and other supplies, equipment usage and contracted debris-removal work.
“I can tell you we were successful in fully closing out Hurricane Hermine [FEMA claims], and I know a lot of other cities are still waiting for that money,” said Hannafin. “We follow up aggressively.”