FEMA approved $17.5 million for Wilmington’s Florence clean-up

Wilmington started its construction and demolition debris pick-up from Hurricane Florence on Oct. 8, 2018. (Photo: Monique Robinson/WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The City of Wilmington is getting back millions of dollars it spent to clean up after Hurricane Florence hit back in September.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today it has approved more than $17.5 million to reimburse Wilmington for debris removal after the storm. The money helps cover the costs the city incurred between Sept. 20, 2018, and Feb. 22.

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The city says its expenses for cleanup and repairs total almost $32 million to date. $22 million of that is for debris from Hurricane Florence, the city says.

“The city greatly appreciates this reimbursement for debris pickup from Hurricane Florence. With almost 1.4 million cubic yards of debris picked up, this storm was one of the most damaging in our history. We are still working to pick up the pieces from this storm and we will continue to work with our partner agencies to help our community recover,” Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said in a statement.

According to a news release, the city expects to receive this first reimbursement before June 30, which is the end of the city’s fiscal year. The funds will be put back into the city’s savings account, which the city maintains for emergencies like Hurricane Florence. The city expects to be reimbursed for much of the remaining costs from federal and state funding over the next one to two years.

FEMA says its Public Assistance program provides grants to state and local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations to reimburse the cost of debris removal, emergency protective measures and permanent repair work.

Public Assistance is a cost-sharing program. FEMA reimburses applicants at least 75 percent of eligible costs, and the remaining 25 percent is covered by the state of North Carolina.

FEMA says its share for this project was about $13.1 million. The federal share is paid directly to the state, which disburses funds to agencies, local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations that incurred costs.