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Southold Town anticipating nearly $300K in COVID-19 reimbursements from FEMA

Southold hopes to be “100% reimbursed” by FEMA for expenses incurred because of the COVID-19 pandemic during its state of emergency. 

President Joe Biden directed the organization in February to pay 100% federal funding for the costs of eligible pandemic-related activities undertaken from January 2020 through Sept. 30, 2021. The agency noted some examples of reimbursable expenses include increasing medical capacity, non-congregate sheltering and emergency feeding distribution. It can be difficult to anticipate how much money the town will recover, Supervisor Scott Russell said at Tuesday’s work session. 

“When all is said and done, they don’t just send us checks, there’s a lot of work involved with reference to developing the budget. FEMA only covers certain costs,” Mr. Russell said, emphasizing the town can only be reimbursed for expenses incurred during a state of emergency. 

Lloyd Reisenberg from Southold’s Office of Emergency Management said total potential reimbursements for COVID-19 could amount to $297,000. “Doesn’t mean we’re going to get it; means we’re putting in for it,” he said, adding that the process can take months. The federal agency does not normally reimburse all emergency costs, according to Mr. Reisenberg. A FEMA fact sheet notes that assistance is usually provided at a 75% federal cost share.

In addition, Mr. Russell said the town incurred personnel costs during the pandemic that won’t be recoverable. 

“We had to hire new people because we had to change the way we were maintaining buildings, through sterilization, all those other things,” he said. 

Ms. McLaughlin said she’s been tracking COVID-related expenditures from the beginning to make the process “a little less cumbersome.” 

Mr. Reisenberg said the town is also applying for reimbursements related to Tropical Storm Isaias, for a net potential total of $140,000.