City to accept partial FEMA reimbursement for Hurricane Matthew damage to northern attenuator

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
June 2, 2021


At their June 1, 2021 Regular Meeting, the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC) unanimously approved Resolution 2021-83, accepting FEMA reimbursement for repairs to the Fernandina Harbor Marina’s northern attenuator for damages sustained during Hurricane Matthew in 2016.  They also approved an amendment to the Resolution directing that the reimbursement be used to help reduce marina debt.

Both the northern and southern attenuators were damaged during Hurricane Matthew.  However, reimbursement from FEMA has been sought under two different project numbers.  In both cases the final FEMA obligation for both projects differed from the original FEMA estimates.  For the northern attenuator, the original estimate of $1,500,706 was reduced to $1,251,569. 

Given the likely cost of litigation, staff recommended that the City Commission withdraw the appeal for the northern attenuator and accept the FEMA obligation of $1,307,711.  Based upon prior FEMA correspondence, the City will received 75% ($980,783) from FEMA and an additional $163,463 from the State of Florida (representing half of the remaining 25% after the FEMA reimbursement).

For the southern attenuator, FEMA reduced its original estimate of $6,425,937 to $624,768.

The City appealed the amounts to FEMA through the State Department of Emergency Management, which supported the appeal. FEMA has failed to respond in a timely manner to the City’s appeal, thereby making the City eligible to pursue arbitration to resolve the dispute.

Based upon staff recommendations, the Commission voted on May 18, 2021 to move forward with arbitration to recover the costs of replacement of the southern attenuator.  City Attorney Tammi Bach reported that outside counsel believes arbitration will be concluded by the end of the calendar year.

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