FEMA OKs $1.7M to help rebuild Irma-damaged dunes on Jacksonville beaches

Clay County also awarded nearly $2M for debris removal

File photo of Atlantic Beach dunes

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved more than $1.7 million to help Jacksonville cover the expenses of rebuilding dunes on city beaches damaged in 2017 by Hurricane Irma, the agency announced Tuesday.

The funds will reimburse the city for the cost of rebuilding dunes along a 7½-mile stretch of beach using 56,280 cubic yards of new sand, as well as planting more than a quarter-million dune plants, primarily sea oat, on parts of the beach.

Waves caused by Irma largely wiped out dunes and plants that had been installed only months earlier to repair damage from Hurricane Matthew in 2016. All of the dune work will be done in conjunction with a beach renourishment project already planned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Additionally, FEMA will reimburse Jacksonville nearly $4.1 million for the cost of overtime worked by the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department before, during and after Irma. The 1,400-member department logged nearly 43,000 hours of overtime between Sept. 4, 2017, and Oct. 3, 2017.

FEMA also approved nearly $2 million to help Clay County defray the costs of Irma debris removal.

Between Sept. 18, 2017, and Oct. 17, 2017, Clay County’s personnel and contractors gathered and hauled away 117,254 cubic yards of vegetative debris and 16,840 cubic yards of demolition debris. The contractor also removed nearly 5,600 tree limbs and 65 damaged trees.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's office on Tuesday released a statement after it was informed that FEMA will be reimbursing multiple cities and counties across Florida, as well as the Florida Division of Emergency Management, $37.1 million for Irma recovery.

“Nearly two years later, communities across the state of Florida are still struggling to fully restore their communities from the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma,” Rubio said. “I am glad to see these much needed funds from FEMA heading to our communities to assist in their recovery efforts.”

The $37.1 million also includes a more than $3.4 million grant to the state Division of Emergency Management to help with the costs of responding to Irma.

The funds will reimburse the state for assisting in providing services such as base camps, temporary staffing, supplies and other items needed for emergency protective measures throughout Florida.

The new grant is in addition to about $28 million FEMA already provided to the state for similar activities.