Hurricane Irma displaced so much sand at Sombrero Beach that the picnic tables were almost buried. The City of Marathon has since restored the beach, and been reimbursed with FEMA funds for the cost. WEEKLY FILE PHOTO

When Hurricane Irma rolled through the Middle Keys in 2017, the City of Marathon had saved enough to pay for its “A” and “B” hurricane expenses: debris removal and emergency protective measures. But it took almost every penny and the municipality has been waiting on reimbursement. 

Now the city has almost all of it. 

Of about $14 million in expenditures for removing trash heaps and transporting them to the mainland, citywide inspections for electric system safety and other repairs, the state Department of Emergency Management has repaid all but $1.7 million.

“I have to give credit to two people,” said Marathon City Manager Chuck Lindsey, “our finance director Jennifer Johnson, and the state’s Jared Moskowitz.”

Johnson also praised the Department of Emergency Management’s current administration. “They have been a pleasure to work with,” she said. 

As the city receives reimbursement, it is rolling out other repairs. For example, it cost $1.4 million to put Sombrero Beach back together. The state has released the federal share of that project, as well as its own. The city is waiting on about $67,000 to be made whole on that project.

Other projects are still looming, such as repairs to roads and bridges and the city’s wastewater system.

“We still have damages,” said Lindsy. “We need to pay for those repairs and wait to be reimbursed.”

According to the city’s financials, it will cost $3.1 million to make utility repairs and $6.7 million to repair the roads and bridges. 

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