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City of Wilmington will receive $17.5 million from FEMA for Florence debris removal

The city received both state and federal funds to reimburse the costs of debris removal over a span of five months after Hurricane Florence made landfall.

Port City Proud volunteers stand on a large fallen tree on Monday, September 24, 2018. (Port City Daily photo | Mark Darrough)
Port City Proud volunteers stand on a large fallen tree following Hurricane Florence. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

The City of Wilmington spent a total of nearly $32 in cleanup and repairs after Hurricane Florence

WILMINGTON — The City of Wilmington will receive more than $17.5 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the state of North Carolina to reimburse debris removal costs incurred during the months after Hurricane Florence.

According to a FEMA announcement, the city hired contractors to remove vegetation and other debris from public rights of way throughout the city starting four days after the hurricane made landfall.

The approved funds will cover debris removal work through February 22.

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According to a release from the city, this is Wilmington’s first reimbursement from federal and state funding for expenses incurred following the hurricane.

“The city’s expenses for cleanup and repairs totals almost $32 million to date; 22 million of that is for debris pickup from Hurricane Florence,” city spokesperson Malissa Talbert said.

She said the city expects to receive the funds before June 30 — the end of the city’s fiscal year — and also expects to be reimbursed for much of the remaining costs from federal and state funds over the next one or two years.

“The city greatly appreciates this reimbursement for debris pickup from Hurricane Florence. With almost 1.4 million cubic yards of debris picked up, this storm was one of the most damaging in our history. We are still working to pick up the pieces from this storm and we will continue to work with our partner agencies to help our community recover,” Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said.

The funds are a part of FEMA’s Public Assistance program that provides grants to state and local governments and certain nonprofits that help reimburse the cost of debris removal, emergency protective measures, and permanent repair work.

As a cost-sharing program, it reimburses approved applicants at least 75 percent of eligible costs while the remaining 25 percent is paid for by the state.

According to FEMA’s release, FEMA itself paid $13.1 million for Wilmington’s debris removal. The federal share is paid directly to the state, which disburses funds to agencies, municipal and county governments, and private nonprofit groups that incurred post-Florence recovery costs.

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