By Mike S Payton, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – Last week, on November 1st, the City of Miami announced it had secured a $7.3 million check from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which reimburses the City for funds that it expended in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in 2017.
Florida Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz was instrumental in securing the reimbursement for the City and transmitted the check to the City of Miami following a meeting with Miami City Manager Emilio T. Gonzalez last week in Tallahassee.
“I’m grateful to Director Moskowitz for his significant assistance in recouping these funds for the City of Miami and for expediting the payment,” said City Manager Gonzalez.
“These monies will go towards the major debris removal operations the City undertook following Hurricane Irma. We will continue to work closely with Director Moskowitz, as well as our federal partners, to recover outstanding reimbursement dollars.”
In total, the City is seeking $8.4 million in reimbursements from FEMA related to Hurricane Irma cleanup efforts, with more than ninety percent of those dollars now obligated or received.
At the time, Hurricane Irma was the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in recorded history. It was a Category 5 storm when it made landfall on Barbuda on September 6, 2017. Its winds were 185 miles per hour for 37 hours. An unofficial wind gust was clocked at 199 miles per hour.
The worst of Irma missed Miami, but many areas were heavily flooded by the storm surge and power was down in many neighborhoods. Pierre Oggier, a Swiss national who had been living in Miami for five years, spoke to the Financial Times in the aftermath.
“I live in downtown Miami and it is a mess,” he said. “I’ve no idea when I’ll be able to go home. At the moment I think my condo is more than six feet under water. I live at the 35th floor so my house won’t be flooded but … my main fear is whether my windows are broken or not.”
According to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), hurricanes Maria and Irma had total costs of $90 billion and $50 billion, respectively. Hurricane Maria now ranks as the third costliest weather disaster on record for the nation, and Irma ranks as the fifth costliest.
It is estimated that Hurricane Harvey had total costs of $125 billion — second only to Hurricane Katrina in the period of record, which had an approximate cost of $161 billion.
In terms of insured U.S. coastal properties vulnerable to hurricanes, New York ranks number one with $2.92 trillion, followed by Florida ($2.86 trillion), Texas ($1.17 trillion), Massachusetts ($849 billion), and New Jersey ($713 billion).
The cumulative cost of the sixteen separate billion-dollar weather events in the U.S. in 2017 was $306.2 billion, breaking the previous cost record of $214.8 billion (2005).