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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

FEMA failure creates Anna Maria rush
Got beach?
The sand base for these Australian pines along North Shore Drive in Anna Maria has become severely eroded the past six months as a result of hurricanes and a recent winter storm. The trees appear ready to topple at any moment without some immediate beach renourishment. Islander Photo: Bonner Joy
Got more beach?
This house between 751 and 761 North Shore Drive in Anna Maria is in immediate need of a berm or beach renourishment to prevent further erosion - and perhaps serious structural damage - following the four hurricanes of 2004 and the winter storm that passed through the area during the recent holiday season. Islander Photo: Bonner Joy

After weeks of searching through the Federal Emergency Management Agency bureaucracy to find the completed forms that give emergency approval to construct a berm along a severely eroded beach area of North Shore Drive in Anna Maria, Mayor SueLynn finally located the appropriate documents in a FEMA office in Orlando. The documents were completed in mid-October, the mayor said, but never forwarded to Anna Maria by FEMA.

Apparently, a lot of cities are in the same position of trying to find the approved FEMA forms, she added.

But FEMA's failure to ensure a timely delivery has created a problem for SueLynn and the Anna Maria City Commission.

To get a permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to build the berm, the city needs its application on file with the DEP by Jan. 15. In addition, the city has to approve the $32,200 in funding and identify a contractor in the application. FEMA will reimburse 90 percent ($29,550) of the construction cost, while the state should pick up the tab for the remainder, she said.

That still leaves the city facing an emergency meeting to approve the funds and select a contractor within the next 10 days, the mayor said.

The beach area between 751 and 761 North Shore Drive was severely eroded during the four hurricanes that struck Florida last year. A winter storm during the Christmas holidays further eroded the beach.

SueLynn said she would ask Commission Chairperson John Quam to call an emergency commission meeting on the issue, but no date had been set by press deadline.