Hilton Head has finally received its first reimbursement check — $1.3 million — from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for Hurricane Matthew cleanup, though town officials say about $36 million is still due from Washington.
“We’re hopeful this kind of breaks the log jam,” town manager Steve Riley said Monday. “Getting the first (check) is a big step.”
Since the Category 2 hurricane hit on Oct. 8, the town has spent more than $46 million on recovery and expects the total cost to be around $66 million, according to a town release Monday.
The total reimbursement is pegged at about $38 million, of which approximately $37 million is expected to be FEMA reimbursement, and a little more than $1 million would be a grant, town officials said previously.
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The state of South Carolina also has approved some state funding for the town, but the amount has not been finalized, the release said. The town has used its disaster reserves and other reserves, along with a $20 million loan to finance hurricane response efforts.
Remaining hurricane recovery efforts include stormwater debris removal, beach restoration, and cleanup of town properties and open spaces, Jennifer Ray, the town’s planning and special projects manager, said previously.
In a recent video update, Riley said certain capital improvement projects, including the Coligny Park project, have been put on hold because of a lack of cash flow after depleting reserves for hurricane recovery. The Town Council recently approved a five-year, 5-mill property tax increase to replenish the town’s hurricane recovery fund.
Riley said previously the town will first repay the $20 million loan used to help after the hurricane. Once it is repaid, the town’s reserves must be replenished before any delayed capital improvement projects are restarted, he said then.
Riley said Monday the first FEMA reimbursement check could go toward repaying the $20 million loan or unpaid recovery bills. He added that reimbursement checks should continue to come in for public recovery efforts, while the first reimbursement check for cleanup in the island’s private communities isn’t expected until next month.