TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida wants the White House to approve federal reimbursements for the state and 24 counties to help cover costs of Hurricane Dorian preparation, shelters and evacuation measures.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday he's spoken to President Donald Trump and has directed state emergency-management staff to amend an already-approved request for federal disaster relief to include the additional reimbursements that could approach $200 million.
"I think we will probably get it, because FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) is in a situation where these counties and the state, we did what you would want us to do," DeSantis said. "I mean we actually took steps to prepare. And I think if the idea that because the storm moved one way, that somehow (local governments) are going to be left holding that entire bag, that sends the message to folks to, well, maybe skimp on that next time."
DeSantis added, "And what that will end up leading to is that when a storm does hit, the damage will be worse from the federal perspective because they'll have to pay more money."
The White House approved an emergency declaration for Florida on Friday that, in part, directed federal assistance to state, tribal and local response efforts. But it didn't authorize what is known as Category B reimbursements.
Dorian skirted the state's East Coast this week after earlier threatening major damage.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., made a similar request to the president on Thursday for assistance.
"While I consider ourselves fortunate that the path of Hurricane Dorian veered away from the peninsula of Florida, I cannot forget the costs that localities have incurred to protect their communities over the past several hurricane seasons," Rubio wrote. "Within the last three years, Florida has been directly impacted by Hurricanes Michael, Irma, Hermine, and Matthew. Many of these communities are still awaiting federal reimbursements for monies spent to rebuild and restore their communities from these disasters and will face a significant challenge in preparing for the next storm without federal financial assistance."