St. Thomas — Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett isn’t happy with FEMA Chief, Brock Long’s decision to deny an extension meant to address cost share in the territory.
The Congresswoman responded to a letter submitted to Governor Kenneth E. Mapp denying an extension the Governor requested for 100% Federal cost-share for the Sheltering And Temporary Essential Power program, also known as STEP.
The Congresswoman pointed out that FEMA Chief Brock long has statutory authority under the Insular Areas Act. The act gives long authority to waive the local matching requirements for all disaster funding to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Plaskett stressed the importance of this, noting that the Virgin Islands was struck by two catastrophic category 5 storms in a matter of two weeks.
“Today I sent a letter to FEMA expressing my disappointment in their decision to deny the request from the Governor to extend the 100 percent federal cost share through November 30th and permanently for Army Corp Assignments,” Plaskett stated.
The strongly worded letter penned on December 10th urges Long to reconsider his decision. What’s interesting about Plaskett’s response, is that the Congresswoman details several instances in which she’s communicated this matter to the embattled FEMA Chief who has been investigated by federal authorities for misusing federal vehicles.
Essentially, the Congresswoman pulled several receipts detailing how often she’s contacted FEMA’s chief executive on the matter, dating back to March of this year.
“On numerous occasions I have asked officials about extending the 100 percent cost share portion based on clear statutory authority given to FEMA Administrator by Congress,” the Congresswoman added.
STEP is a program created by FEMA after Hurricane Sandy struck performing work and services essential to saving lives, protecting public health and safety, and protecting property. In particular, FEMA intends STEP to provide essential power to affected residences, thereby reducing the demand for other shelter options and allowing individuals to return to or remain in their home.
“This decision to deny a waiver of the cost share diminishes our ability to fully rebuild critical infrastructure more resilient than pre-disaster conditions thus potentially imperiling us with, God forbid, future hurricanes,” stated Congresswoman Plaskett.
To date, the Virgin Islands has received roughly 2 billion dollars less than 7.5 billion and a that was requested a year ago. President Trump has stated that Long will remain head of FEMA.