FEMA Won't Fully Reimburse Lubbock for Hurricane Relief
The city of Lubbock spent nearly $2 million on hurricane relief efforts. Last week FEMA issued the city a check for nearly $1.6 million. However, city officials say it's not enough. NewsChannel 11's Kealey McIntire explains why they might not get the rest.
City officials are glad to have received part of what they're owed, however they say FEMA still owes them almost $180,000. They may not get it because FEMA officials claim the requests are not practical.
When the government called on Lubbock to help hurricane evacuees the city sprung into action spending nearly $2 million in relief efforts, but now FEMA isn't completely reimbursing them.
Lubbock Mayor Marc McDougal said, "we feel like we were asked to get involved and we did it. We didn't ask any questions."
Salaried employees are typically exempt from receiving overtime, however, during the hurricane relief the city declared a state of emergency. Under the city's emergency policy those employees get paid overtime. However, FEMA disagrees and will not reimburse Lubbock for the nearly $160,000 in overtime expenses.
The Katrina shelter closed within ten days and the Rita shelter closed within four days, faster than any shelter in the state saving the government more than $1.5 million. McDougal says the relief effort wouldn't have gone as smoothly without overtime work from exempt employees, and now he wants what was promised-- the money.
FEMA denied three other reimbursement requests as well:
1 months worth of Citibus passes for evacuees totaling $6,000
$9,500 to keep a fire truck at the Reese Center for safety reasons
$5,000 for a Civic Center tenant who had to cancel an event because that location had to be prepared to house evacuees.
City Council Chief of Staff Dixon Platt said he's not surprised to hear of the requests being denied.
"They're getting a lot of requests," said Platt, "I'm sure some aren't very practical, we think all of ours are reasonable and practical. I don't think we're necessarily surprised."
Mayor McDougal said even if they don't receive the money it won't affect Lubbock taxpayers, he just wants FEMA to keep its promise. However, no matter what happens, the handling of the disaster won't change the city's outlook toward stepping up again.
"We would do it again today if the same situation occurred regardless of what the federal government may or may not do," said McDougal.
McDougal also said they're in the process of appealing FEMA's response. Last week they sent a letter they sent to FEMA officials carefully detailing why their requests are legitimate. No word on when we'll know for sure if FEMA will reimburse them the $180,000.