The “Case of the Lost FEMA Document” is solved

Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
September 8, 2021

At the end of the September 7, 2021 Regular Meeting of the Fernandina Beach City Commission (FBCC), City Manager Dale Martin and Commissioners discussed the status of the settlement of the City’s claim against FEMA for reimbursement of damages to the City Marina caused by Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

City Manager Dale Martin

Martin thanked Commissioners for their patience and support in resolving the FEMA dispute.  He provided them with a spread sheet of costs that will be provided to FEMA in the amount of $6,854,351.27 for the southern attenuator.  City Comptroller Pauline Testagrose has provided the information, which must be acted upon by FEMA no later than 60 days after receipt.  Martin added that the City is also compiling costs for the northern attenuator, which are expected to total around $2M.

“Hopefully, this will all be put to bed shortly before Thanksgiving,” Martin said.

Commissioner Chip Ross addressed Martin.  “We keep hearing over and over again that the City ‘lost’ the paperwork that went to FEMA.  My understanding is that all the paperwork that the City forwarded to FEMA from the git-go is what [FEMA based its decision on].  Is that correct?”

Martin responded, “Correct.  With respect to the ‘lost’ document, one of the early FEMA contractors prepared a document on his own and submitted it to FEMA.  That document was never provided to the City.  Subsequently, when the City asked for a copy of that, FEMA admitted that they had destroyed the document.  When the contractors asked for a copy of the document from FEMA, they were also told that it had been destroyed.  The City never had a copy of that document.”

Commissioner Chip Ross

Ross continued, “Just to make it perfectly clear, all the paperwork that the City submitted initially was the basis for FEMA’s decision [to pay the City’s claim].  There was no new information provided to them.  The City was not faulted for providing incomplete information.”

Martin said, “Correct.  Our request for arbitration included 24 attachments or exhibits.”

Commissioners expressed gratitude to the City Manager, City Attorney and City staff for pursuing this matter on behalf of the citizens.

Mayor Lednovich commended City Manager Martin for fighting for the City and the taxpayers.

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