52ºF

Damage, expenses remain one year after Hurricane Irma

Funding still needed for many repair projects

ORLANDO, Fla. – As Hurricane Irma was passing over Central Florida, Claudette Louise struggled to evacuate from her home due to the floodwater that covered her front yard and spilled into her house.

"The water was deep, like 5 or 6 feet," said Louise, who lives in Orlando's Orlo Vista neighborhood, one of the areas hardest hit by flooding following Hurricane Irma.

One year after the storm, most of Central Florida has cleaned up, but signs of Irma's fury still remain inside Louise's home.

The wooden cabinets in Louise's kitchen are deteriorating from the dirty water that sat inside them for several days, large mildew stains cover parts of the interior walls and the air conditioner equipment previously submerged in flooding is still out of commission.

"We only use fans," said Louise as she stood in her stifling, humid block home.

Although Louise said she received $10,000 in disaster aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, she still cannot afford to make many repairs.

FEMA has paid out more than $1 billion in aid to Floridians since Irma in the form of housing assistance, rent, transportation, childcare and other disaster-related expenses, according to the federal agency.

One year after the hurricane, FEMA is still working to reimburse municipalities and nonprofits for repairs and debris removal costs.

According to Florida Division of Emergency Management, which helps facilitate reimbursements through FEMA's Public Assistance Program, more than 700 applications have been approved statewide, totaling nearly $257 million.

Yet one year after Irma, less than a quarter of those projects have been funded. According to the state, 182 payments have been made, totaling about $94 million.

State and federal officials have previously explained that the reimbursement process is in-depth, requiring municipalities to submit invoices and other documentation to verify the hurricane-related expenses.


About the Author: