Karl Bursa updates the county commissioners on the status of FEMA Flood Mitigation Assistance grants at the Jan. 23 BOCC meeting. TIFFANY DUONG/Keys Weekly

At the first BOCC meeting of 2020, the county commissioners authorized Mayor Heather Carruthers to execute funding agreements related to FEMA Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) grants to the owners of five properties in Key Largo, Marathon and Key West. The commissioners held the agenda item to make a further point about funding that’s still available to other property owners under the programs.

“I held these two agenda items for an explanation from Karl. I’m excited about these because we’re getting some real money to help our residents,” Carruthers said. 

Karl Bursa, Monroe County’s chief of floodplain regulatory operations, updated the commissioners on the status of the five properties: “These are flood mitigation grants from FEMA. These five projects have been accepted by the DEO and are now in their final approval state,” he said. “This is money that helps residents, individuals elevate above the floodplain. Feds pay for 75% of it, and sometimes more for vets. That’s the bulk of it.”

Commissioner Sylvia Murphy confirmed that the remaining 25% of project funding will come from property owners themselves.

Bursa hopes to expand the successful federal cost-sharing program to others who qualify.

“We hope this will be the first step in a much wider program,” he said. “It’s the spearhead project.” 

Additionally, he noted, the mitigation and renovation efforts will be a net benefit to the entire community by removing properties that could inundate neighbors. 

“This really helps our entire community,” he said.

Commissioner Michelle Coldiron queried, “Is it too late for residents to apply?” Bursa said that it wasn’t. “It’s a revolving door of funding. The funding pool from Irma is closing down, but Michael still has a pool.” 

Bursa explained that his department hopes to continue to pull actively from the funding pool to help Monroe County residents get ahead of the storms by building more resilient buildings that sit above the new floodplain base elevations. 

Coldiron continued, hinting at the intent behind some of her questions. “I know a lot of this, but I’m asking for the benefit of the public — is it just for unincorporated Monroe?” Bursa confirmed that the funding is available for anyone in Monroe, both in the municipalities as well as unincorporated county lands.

The BOCC hopes additional property owners will take advantage of the 75% federal cost-sharing for flood mitigation assistance. TIFFANY DUONG/Keys Weekly

The commissioners noted that active military, law enforcement and other public service officers are eligible to receive an even higher federal cost-share; all of the approved contracts showed FEMA funding for 83% of total project costs. 

To learn more or apply, contact Karl Bursa with the Building Department at 305-453-8759 and [email protected].


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