Gov. Rick Scott filed a formal appeal Friday asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency to reverse its recent decision denying public assistance to Collier County and 10 other Florida counties damaged by Hurricane Isaac.
Scott's appeal includes the original seven counties — Collier, Bay, Escambia, Monroe, Okaloosa, Palm Beach and Santa Rosa — and a request for four additional counties, Broward, Franklin, Martin and St. Lucie. Preliminary damage assessments conducted by local, state and federal government teams identified more than $38.4 million of damage in the 11 counties included in the appeal, the state reports.
"The state’s appeal to FEMA to revisit their decision on the denial for federal assistance for Hurricane Isaac ensures Florida’s citizens and communities have all resources available to recover quickly and completely," said Florida Emergency Management Director Bryan W. Koon. “Florida surpassed the $25 million threshold in the original request for a federal declaration. The appeal includes an additional $11.6 million in damage for the four additional counties. It is my hope that FEMA will recognize the legitimacy of this request and grant a federal disaster declaration for Hurricane Isaac’s damage in Florida.”
On Sept. 10, Gov. Scott requested public assistance for seven of the state's hardest hit areas, including Collier County. In FEMA’s Sept. 19 denial letter, it determined that the damage from Isaac was within the capabilities of the state and counties to recover. In its appeal, the state cites six factors FEMA considers when evaluating the need for public assistance after a disaster, including estimated cost of the assistance, localized impacts, insurance coverage in force, hazard mitigation, recent multiple disasters and programs of other federal assistance, a news release reports.
The first factor, estimated cost of the assistance, is meant to ensure that the Florida disaster receiving federal assistance exceeds $25.3 million, based on the established per-capita statewide threshold of $1.35 per resident. Preliminary damage assessments performed in 15 counties revealed total damage of more than $48.3 million, well above the statewide threshold for public assistance.
Because of the potential impacts of Isaac, the governor signed an executive order Aug. 25 declaring a statewide emergency. The hurricane made landfall south of New Orleans on Aug. 28, after impacting some areas in Florida with record rainfall and flooding, as well as tornadoes spawned from the storm.