The City of Lubbock shelled out thousands of dollars in preparation for Hurricane Ike evacuees last year. Now -- a year later -- that money is yet to be returned.
City officials tell us we've only received about 75% of what the Federal Government owes, but this may be the last time we ever have to wait to get back the money we dole out for emergency response.
It was almost a year ago that emergency response teams were preparing the Coliseum for nearly 800 Ike evacuees. The city ended up paying about $123,000. Even though we're still waiting to see that money, city officials say the're not concerned. Mayor Tom Martin tells me the Federal Government is notorious for taking a long time, but he says he's confident the money will come eventually.
Now the state is stepping in to combat the delay. A new law effective today will budget $325 Million for emergency response. That means if Lubbock is called to shelter evacuees or send response teams, the state will pay us back immediately, instead having to wait on FEMA.
City council voted with no hesitation Thursday to shelter Louisiana evacuees in the event of another disaster, even though we're owed $31,000 from Ike. Martin says the new state budget is a welcomed security.
Mayor Tom Martin, City of Lubbock: "The state will help the local jurisdictions' cash flow, whereas the state is better able to absorb having to wait for the money. The current state plan for this year, does not contemplate us having to shelter any evacuees, but neither did it contemplate it before hurricane katrina either. So, we're always prepared for a call out to do it."
City officials say at last check, FEMA says we should be paid back in six to eight weeks. But of course, that's no definite timeline.