News

FEMA ordered to pay New Orleans $10 million

FEMA ordered to pay New Orleans $10 million

Lower Ninth Ward residents Eileen Lange (L) and Janet Aubert (R) question a representative from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in New Orleans December 2, 2005. Residents of the Lower Ninth Ward, one of the hardest hit areas of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, were permitted to visit their homes and recover belongings for the first time on December 1. Photo: Reuters/Lee Celano - RTR19Z7T

By Amanda Becker

(Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency has been ordered by a federal arbitration panel to reimburse New Orleans for more than $10 million in wages paid to city emergency personnel after Hurricane Katrina.

FEMA is obligated to pay the Louisiana city $10.8 million to cover one-third of the salaries paid to police, fire and medical personnel during the four months after Katrina hammered New Orleans in 2005, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Civilian Board of Contract Appeals said in an August 29 decision reviewed by Reuters.

New Orleans had asked the CBCA, which resolves contract disagreements between executive branch agencies, to review a May 2012 determination by FEMA that it would not pay the first-responder salaries.

FEMA officials had previously said the agency would reimburse New Orleans for one-third of the regular pay of critical personnel so the city could avoid layoffs. But years later, a FEMA representative told city officials by email that agency protocol prohibited it from making such payments.

A FEMA spokesman had no immediate comment.

The CBCA arbitrators agreed with the city that FEMA policy did not bar reimbursement of regular pay incurred following a disaster. “In the aftermath of the devastation in New Orleans, the city was financially crippled and faced the prospect of bankruptcy, lacking cash reserves and population or commerce available to pay taxes,” the decision noted.

FEMA said on August 28 that it has provided Louisiana with nearly $19.6 billion in recovery assistance after Katrina and Hurricane Rita, which also hit the state in 2005.

(Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Eric Walsh)

Recent Headlines

11 hours ago in Sports

The week’s best sports shots

Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning holds up the trophy after the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. The Broncos won 24-10. (AP Photo/Matt York)

A look back at some of the best plays and biggest moments in sports this week.

11 hours ago in Sports

The weekend sports schedule

kobebryantallstar

Here's a look at this weekend's sports schedule.

12 hours ago in Entertainment

Bill Murray tosses fans’ phones off rooftop

billmurray

The "Ghostbusters" star was unwinding at rooftop restaurant in California on Thursday when he spotted two starstruck fans trying to snap his photo.

13 hours ago in Entertainment

OPENING WEEKEND: ‘Deadpool,’ ‘Zoolander 2’ to battle at the box office

15-overlay-6

Here's a look at some of the films set to open this weekend.

13 hours ago in Entertainment, National

Roses and roaches: Cold-hearted Valentine’s Day ideas

valentines

With the coldest air in more than a decade forecast to grip the United States this Valentine's Day weekend, the holiday dedicated to love is flashing its frigid side.