Crews remove a sunken motorhome


In June, Monroe County received a $49.2 million grant towards debris clean up in 103 of the most impacted canals in the Keys, and now the cleanup efforts have begun.

A workforce of about 60 people will use 15 barges, 5 sonar boats, 4 grapple trucks and other equipment to complete the project within 220 days. Of the 103 canals that will be cleaned, eight are in the Upper Keys, 23 in the Middle Keys and 72 in the Lower Keys.

FEMA has a comprehensive reimbursement policy in place for local governments to remove hurricane land debris, but FEMA does not have such a reimbursement policy for removing hurricane debris from canals.

After exhausting avenues for FEMA funding for clean-up efforts, the Monroe County obtained alternate funding from the Emergency Watershed Protection Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. This type of funding was used following Hurricane Georges in 1998 to help the marine cleanup. Monroe County staff and State representatives advocated for the grant.

The federal grant has a local match (non-federal funds) of 25 percent. Monroe County will use $5.5 million of its Florida Keys Stewardship Act funds toward its portion of the local match.

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