City of Fernandina Beach files FEMA appeal

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
July 18, 2021

Dockhouse at the city marina after Matthew’s visit

On Friday, July 16, 2021, the City of Fernandina Beach filed its Request for Arbitration seeking reimbursement funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for damages to the City Marina incurred during Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.  The appeal consists of 39 heavily documented and footnoted pages supplemented by 38 exhibits.

The City is being represented by the Washington law firm of Baker, Donaldson, Bearman, Caldwell and Berkowitz.

The Board of the U.S. Civilian Board of Contract Appeals acknowledged receipt of the electronic filing Friday afternoon. E-file submissions are considered filed as provided in the Board’s Rules.  The City requests that the Panel direct FEMA to confirm that the Facility is eligible for replacement and obligate funding for the actual costs incurred under PWs 831 and 1085 to replace the Facility, as well as the City’s financing costs including interest incurred to replace the Facility.

On Monday, July 19, 2021, the Clerk of the Board of the U.S. Civilian Board of Contract Appeals will docket the City’s Arbitration request and assign a panel of Judges in the City’s ongoing battle with FEMA concerning reimbursement for the completed replacement costs for damage to the waterfront as a result of Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

Following Hurricane Matthew, it is alleged that FEMA inspected the City’s Municipal Dock and determined that it was eligible for replacement under FEMA’s Fifty Percent Rule. Based upon that repair estimate, the City borrowed funds and completed the replacement work.
The repair estimates evidently have been “lost.” FEMA asserts that the estimates cannot be found and/or are not in its possession.

On April 3, 2020, FEMA created a new repair estimate of $629,110.50 which is a $5.5 million deviation from what is alleged to be the original replacement estimate. FEMA now refuses to provide funding for the replacement costs because “the facility was only eligible for repair rather than replacement.”

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