Partial Federal Emergency Management Agency shutdown would have little or no effect on Florida, Palm Beach County

Sep 26, 2011

The following article was published in the Palm Beach Post on September 26, 2011: 


Partial FEMA shutdown will have little or no effect on Florida


By Dara Kam


A possible federal government shutdown this week should have little if any impact on emergency management operations in Florida, state officials said Monday.

The state is currently receiving about $1 billion dollars in federal aid for hurricanes and other disasters dating back seven years, and at most $37.2 million could be delayed if there is a federal work suspension, Florida Division of Emergency Management spokeswoman Melanie Motiska said.

And of the $37.2 million, $18.5 million is for Florida projects under appeal, so getting that money already depends on successful outcomes in those cases.

“Please note that the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s operations budget is on solid ground and DEM remains prepared to respond to any potential disaster that could befall the state,” Motiska said in an e-mail.

The federal government reimburses spending on recovery projects to the state, which then distributes it to counties and other agencies.

The bulk of the spending is for long-term projects not dependent on an immediate influx of cash from FEMA, which may run out of money Friday unless Congress acts.

“Overall, the suspension, if it remains a short duration matter (i.e. a few months) should have minor impact on the state of Florida for current Recovery programs due to the fact that we are working within existing funding obligations for Project Worksheets connected to disaster events that occurred in past years,” Motiska said.

Palm Beach County relies on FEMA grants to help fund homeland security and emergency management operations, said county emergency management director Bill Johnson.

He also said a possible shutdown probably would have no impact on the county.

“Most of this stuff travels really slowly and we’ve already received it or will get it sometime,” Johnson said. “The reality is that at some point in time I can’t imagine there won’t be some kind of reconciliation that happens, whether it’s tomorrow or Friday or a week from Friday because the country can’t go without a disaster fund.”