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Palazzo Voices Local Concerns to FEMA, NOAA

Washington, DC – Congressman Steven Palazzo, (MS-4), recently sent letters voicing local concerns with two federal agencies regarding responses to disaster recovery efforts in South Mississippi. Disaster relief funds dependent on NOAA approval were sought from FEMA to repair damage from Hurricane Isaac in 2012.


In a letter to FEMA, Palazzo stated:


I am writing to express my disappointment in FEMA’s obstruction of Hurricane Isaac disaster recovery efforts in South Mississippi.  As you know, several cities and counties along Mississippi’s Gulf Coast were devastated by Hurricane Isaac in August 2012.  In response, FEMA declared the Coast a “disaster area.”  Since that time, Harrison County, the City of Gulfport, and the City of Long Beach have petitioned for disaster relief funds to rebuild and repair piers damaged by Hurricane Isaac.   Discouragingly, FEMA has denied their requests.  Harrison County repaired its pier following post-Katrina and post-Gustav approval processes and repair guidelines; however, FEMA has denied its Hurricane Isaac reimbursement requests for failing to comply with these same requirements. FEMA has also blocked the cities of Gulfport and Long Beach from pier-repair efforts by unjustifiably delaying its response to their requests.  Because damage occurred to these Gulf Coast piers more than a year ago, I am requesting that FEMA expedite approval of, and fund distribution for, these projects.


In a letter to NOAA, Palazzo noted that the agency has “groundlessly hindered” the environmental approval process for Harrison County, the City of Gulfport, and the City of Long Beach, and requested:


So that FEMA might expedite fund distribution and reimbursement for disaster recovery that occurred over a year ago, I am requesting that 1) NOAA acknowledge Harrison County’s compliance with established, NOAA-mandated guidelines and 2) that NOAA expedite approval of pier-rebuilds in Gulfport and Long Beach.


Local municipalities sought to repair and rebuild damaged structures similar to work done following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Gustav in 2008. Despite the fact that these structures pre-date newer environmental standards, the agencies now appear to be using such standards to block reimbursement for similar work performed following Hurricane Isaac in 2012. Palazzo’s office is also raising questions about other projects completed following Hurricane Isaac, including several in Jackson County.