Jackson Co. files arbitration against FEMA for Hurricane Michael relief funds

Published: Feb. 4, 2022 at 7:04 PM CST
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JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - When Hurricane Michael hit in 2018, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offered to help out Jackson County.

“They have paid for the debris removal, that was like 72 million dollars,” Commissioner Jim Peacock said. “They helped out some of the citizens with housing, and initially they helped out with tarps. They brought in tarps and water and that type stuff.”

Commissioner Jim Peacock said there are more than three thousand locations that need repairs. FEMA is offering the county 800 thousand dollars. The county disagrees with this amount, so they made an appeal, but FEMA never answered. Now the county is filing arbitration to settle the dispute.

“There is a difference of opinion as to what qualifies as damage,” Peacock said. “The damage that we say was caused by trees and stuff hitting the pavement, busting the pavement, gouging the pavement, they’re saying that was all done by the debris removal people.”

Peacock says an arbitration panel in Washington, D.C. will settle the dispute. Once they make a decision, the amount of money Jackson County receives from FEMA will be final.

Peacock says all of the money from FEMA after the arbitration will go to the 3,311 Jackson County sites damaged by Hurricane Michael.

“My hope would be they realize they made a terrible mistake and rectify it by giving us the 70 million [dollars] , but that’s not going to happen,” he said.

The arbitration will take place the beginning of March, but it’s unknown when a final decision will be made.

NewsChannel 7 reached out to FEMA for a statement on this matter, and their response was as follows:

“Arbitration is part of the normal process available to all grantees and we will continue to work with Jackson County for reimbursement on all eligible costs.”

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