Congressional delegation: FEMA reversal is ‘unacceptable’

Mississippi Sens. Roger F. Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith, and Reps. Steven M. Palazzo of south Mississippi and Benny G. Thompson of the Delta have all notified FEMA that the decision to retroactively deny $15.5 million in infrastructure funding for Biloxi is “unacceptable” and should be reversed.

The letter, dated Sept. 13 and sent to Acting Deputy Administrator Daniel Kaniewski, noted that the FEMA decision to deobligate $8.8 million that was approved and spent nearly 10 years ago is “statutorily prohibited,” echoing a MEMA assessment of the issue. And, the letter said, FEMA should change course from its decision to disallow $6.7 million in previously approved funding.

“We certainly appreciate this strongly-worded, bi-partisan show of support,” Biloxi Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich said. “We are appreciative of the tremendous amount of support from FEMA in our rebuilding efforts, but we also expect fair treatment. The senators, the representatives, and the state of Mississippi all now agree: This is wrong and it needs to be made right.”

Gilich said the city’s legislative liasion, Keith Heard, legal adviser Gerald Blessey and City Councilman Felix Gines worked with the state’s Washington delegation to help explain the city’s position.

The letter from the delegation is in support of Biloxi’s second appeal of the FEMA decisions. The city is also contesting the action in court.

Said the letter from the senators and congressmen: “We encourage FEMA to change course on this matter and grant the City of Biloxi’s second appeal. We appreciate your attention to this matter, and will follow your progress closely.”
See the delegation’s letter