The "Mythical Matthew Money" finally arrived.
Eighteen months after Hurricane Matthew battered Ormond Beach, the city finally received its $5.8 million FEMA reimbursement from the state.
The reimbursement, nicknamed the "Mythical Matthew Money" by City Commissioner Rick Boehm over the past months, arrived the week of April 2, and was announced at the City Commission meeting the following day. The city's finance department had been going back and forth with the state, regularly calling to inquire about the status of the FEMA reimbursement, which City Manager Joyce Shanahan said was first processed by the Federal Government. The long wait was frustrating for the city, and Shanahan said part of that frustration stemmed from the lack of coordination between the Federal and State Government.
“I don’t think that they had enough staff to process the amount of requests that they had for Hurricane Matthew," Shanahan said. "It just took way too long.”
Boehm said at the City Commission meeting that city staff had contacted every elected official above them to expedite the process and were told that the state was "working on it."
“I am pleased that at long last the 'Mythical Matthew Money' has arrived and after having spent months mentioning this is my comments after every meeting, I now get to strike this. I almost permanently imprinted it on a notepad.”
Rick Boehm, Ormond Beach City Commissioner Zone 3
“I am pleased that at long last the 'Mythical Matthew Money' has arrived and after having spent months mentioning this is my comments after every meeting, I now get to strike this," Boehm said. "I almost permanently imprinted it on a notepad.”
Shanahan said the city was fortunate to have sufficient funds in its reserves to pay debris contractors so no money had to be borrowed, a reality other cities in the area had to face.
“We’re talking almost $6 million, and that’s a good chunk of it, but that’s only part of our expenses," Shanahan said."We still have two big projects," she added, referring to the downtown street and ball field lighting replacements still ongoing.
She said it was her understanding that the larger the reimbursement check, the longer the respective cities had to wait. Others have already received their reimbursements.
Ormond Beach Finance Director Kelly McGuire said in an email that the city will be requesting a $6 million reimbursement for Hurricane Irma and continues to wait for an additional $3 million reimbursement for Hurricane Matthew.
As for the pending FEMA reimbursement for Hurricane Irma, Shanahan said she's less optimistic about receiving that check soon since many more cities across the state were also impacted. She can't imagine it will come any sooner than 12 months from now.
Boehm expressed similar sentiments at the City Commission meeting.
"Someday," Boehm said. "Somehow. Someway.”