For the second time in two months, the federal government has turned down an appeal by Gov. Rick Scott for disaster aid for a hurricane that clipped but didn't barrel into Florida.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced this week that it will not honor the governor's request for disaster assistance to Florida’s communities after Hurricane Sandy damaged beaches and infrastructure in seven South Florida counties from Miami-Dade to Brevard on Oct. 24-26.
“Beaches are an essential element in Florida’s economy. We are frustrated by the inconsistency in policy regarding funding beach damages by FEMA," said Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Bryan W. Koon. "This denial places a burden on the already fiscally constrained counties.”
Scott had originally applied for the disaster funds in November but the request was rejected. The governor appealed the decision and was denied. A similar request, seeking $26 million in federal aid for Hurricane Isaac, was rejected in September and then approved the relief for 11 north Florida counties.
Disaster relief for Hurricane Sandy became a hotly contested political issues earlier this month when the U.S. House adjourned without approving any aid to the badly-hit states of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. The House reconvened in Jan. 4 to pass a $9.7 billion aid package and returned this week to add $50.5 billion to rebuild the hardest hit communities.
But several members of the Florida delegation, many of them conservative Republicans voted against the aid package because they feared it contained too much money for non-Sandy expenses.
That provoked a rebuke from U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, a New Jersey Republican.
“Disaster means disaster and emergency means emergency,” he said. “We were there for you, Florida, when you had your hurricane and God bless you if you think you are not going to have another hurricane.”