Virginia Beach estimates $51.8M in damages from Matthew

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City Council talks FEMA assessment

Virginia Beach City Manager David Hansen updates city council Tuesday on damages from Hurricane Matthew. (Justin Belichis/Southside Daily)

The total price tag for cleaning up from Hurricane Matthew in Virginia Beach could be as high as $51.8 million.

At a Virginia Beach City Council briefing Tuesday, City Manager Dave Hansen gave an updated figure on the city’s Hurricane Matthew recovery costs. The information came as some Virginia Beach residents are still displaced after flood water damaged their homes, and others don’t have clothes for cold weather.

Especially hard hit are residents of Waypoint Apartments in Lynnhaven, where 186 apartments flooded. Eighty-four units have asbestos and leases for those apartments are being terminated by the management company. Residents who live in second-floor apartments will be allowed to return when asbestos remediation is completed. Residents are barred from entering their apartments to recover their belongings, unless they sign a release.

Councilmember Amelia Ross-Hammond said some Waypoint residents are without weather-appropriate clothes.

“We had a call today with some people crying,” said Ross-Hammond. “The families who have been impacted, some of their children going to school did not have clothing, because it was cooler.”

The Salvation Army is required to clean donated items, and the closest cleaning center is in Norfolk, Hansen said. But he added that people can contact the organization, explain their situation, place a bundle order and Salvation Army will deliver it to them.

The city has also opened a community recovery center at the Church of Holy Apostles, 1593 Lynnhaven Pkwy., where Waypoint residents can apply for new housing, temporary and permanent.

According to Hansen, FEMA recognizes 1,610 properties affected by the storm. But more people have reported damages since the agency left, which brings the city’s number to 2,140 properties, Hansen said. That number includes 1,426 that were flooded.

“We have learned that FEMA’s decision is done by a jurisdiction by jurisdiction basis,” said Hansen. FEMA will look at the cities independently and make the determinations, he added.

Last week, FEMA assessed Virginia Beach’s damages to amount to $4.8 million. But the total actual costs the city faces is $9.7 million, according an estimate from this week.

Gov. Terry McAullife wrote a letter to President Barack Obama asking for federal help Friday, Oct. 21 – two weeks after the hurricane hit Hampton Roads.

There are 120 open muck-and-gut work orders and 23 in process, according to Hansen’s briefing. The city has collected 2,603 tons of flood debris and spent $7.9 million on things like overtime, contractual work and hotel assistance. The bulk of that sum went to contractual pumping and debris removal.

An assessment of direct losses to the city is still underway, but so far, that figure could be more than $1.2 million, with losses ranging from 15 police cars and a fire truck to a landfill pump truck.

Three volunteer EMS ambulances were also lost as a result of flooding, and they have a combined replacement cost of $624,180.

There is no telling when FEMA funding will become available, according to Hansen.

Some property owners, whose homes were subject to reverse mortgages, have packed up and left, choosing not to deal with the responsibility for property they technically don’t own, Hansen said.

Separately, at the beginning of the meeting, Mayor Will Sessoms said he and Vice Mayor Louis Jones met with the proposed Oceanfront arena’s developer, Andrea Kilmer, president and CEO of United States Management LLC.

City Council is slated to vote Tuesday, Nov. 1 on whether to give the developer a 60-day extension to sort out a financing plan for the arena, according to Julie Hill, administrator in the city manager’s communications office.

Previously, the developer had a Nov. 8 deadline.

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