News

FEMA ordered to pay New Orleans $10 million

FEMA ordered to pay New Orleans $10 million

Lower Ninth Ward residents Eileen Lange (L) and Janet Aubert (R) question a representative from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in New Orleans December 2, 2005. Residents of the Lower Ninth Ward, one of the hardest hit areas of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, were permitted to visit their homes and recover belongings for the first time on December 1. Photo: Reuters/Lee Celano - RTR19Z7T

By Amanda Becker

(Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency has been ordered by a federal arbitration panel to reimburse New Orleans for more than $10 million in wages paid to city emergency personnel after Hurricane Katrina.

FEMA is obligated to pay the Louisiana city $10.8 million to cover one-third of the salaries paid to police, fire and medical personnel during the four months after Katrina hammered New Orleans in 2005, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Civilian Board of Contract Appeals said in an August 29 decision reviewed by Reuters.

New Orleans had asked the CBCA, which resolves contract disagreements between executive branch agencies, to review a May 2012 determination by FEMA that it would not pay the first-responder salaries.

FEMA officials had previously said the agency would reimburse New Orleans for one-third of the regular pay of critical personnel so the city could avoid layoffs. But years later, a FEMA representative told city officials by email that agency protocol prohibited it from making such payments.

A FEMA spokesman had no immediate comment.

The CBCA arbitrators agreed with the city that FEMA policy did not bar reimbursement of regular pay incurred following a disaster. “In the aftermath of the devastation in New Orleans, the city was financially crippled and faced the prospect of bankruptcy, lacking cash reserves and population or commerce available to pay taxes,” the decision noted.

FEMA said on August 28 that it has provided Louisiana with nearly $19.6 billion in recovery assistance after Katrina and Hurricane Rita, which also hit the state in 2005.

(Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Eric Walsh)

Recent Headlines

in Local

Drunk Boating Monitored

Boater

Law enforcement officers were scattered around Iowa last weekend monitoring lakes and rivers for drunk boaters as part of the national Operation Dry Water campaign.

in Local

Less Bacteria, More Algae in Iowa Lakes

lake

Sunny days with less rainfall have helped clear up some of the bacteria problems in the water at Iowa park beaches.

in Local

Iowa Governor Vetoes School Spending

Money Dollars

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has been hinting for weeks that he was unhappy with the legislature's bipartisan compromise on education funding.

in Local

Caution Needed With Fireworks Displays

fireworks

Everyone loves a backyard fireworks display or attending a big show on the 4th of July.

in Local

OSHA Investigating Nebraska Explosion

firetruck lights

The U-S Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened an investigation into Wednesday's explosion at Sapp Bros. in West Point, Nebraska.