Monday, July 7, 2008

County Revises Hurricane Clean-up Policy in Response to Geller Advising of FEMA Policy Change

ORLANDO, Sept. 24, 2007--Orange County released a new hurricane debris clean-up policy which, for the first time, may provide for debris clean-up in private communities. The new Orange County policy closely tracks language in a new FEMA public assistance policy for debris cleanup in the event of "large-scale" disasters. The new policy comes on the heels of Rick Geller advising the County, through news postings on the Orange County Internet News Service, of FEMA's willingness after Hurricane Katrina to reimburse local governments for private community clean-up.

"I reviewed federal policy and confirmed this opportunity for Orange County," said Geller. "The type of debris we had in 2004, if it happened today, ought to meet the criteria for FEMA reimbursement. We were in a federally-declared disaster area. As we all saw, debris went flying through the air when the next hurricane struck. Debris is also potentially a source of rodent infestation and disease."

The new FEMA policy, pertaining to "widespread debris" in the "living areas" of private communities, requires local governments to grant to themselves the authority to remove debris on private property. The County's new policy commits itself to seeking FEMA reimbursement for debris clean-up in private communities.

Homeowner Associations spent tens of thousands of dollars moving debris from private roads in their communities. Not all private communities are gated.

"We're all paying the same taxes, and ought to receive the same services," said Geller. "That includes cleaning up hurricane debris, especially when FEMA will reimburse the County."

Orange County is posting its new policy on its web site. Click here to view the new policy .

FEMA's July 18, 2007 public assistance policy is posted on the FEMA web site. Click here to view the policy .