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Pinellas County schools reimbursed $2.6 million by FEMA for Hurricane Irma expenses

EVE EDELHEIT | Times Evacuees settle in at the emergency shelter at John Hopkins Middle School on Saturday, September 9, 2017 in St. Petersburg. The school was beginning to fill up with people evacuating before Hurricane Irma makes landfall. The shelter welcomes people from the area with pets and those with special needs.
Published Sep. 13, 2018

A year after Hurricane Irma, the federal government has reimbursed Pinellas County school district for what it spent sheltering 25,000 people from the massive storm.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, approved the district's total ask, awarding Pinellas about $2.6 million.

In a statement, Pinellas superintendent Mike Grego praised his staff for an "outstanding job" preparing and managing shelters.

"We are very pleased to receive reimbursement for the expenses incurred and are grateful for our partnership with Pinellas County and FEMA," the statement said.

The bulk of the district's cost came from payroll, which cost about $2.1 million. Many employees, like school administrators, cafeteria and maintenance workers, are required by contract to work through hurricanes.

The second-largest expense was $300,000 to clean facilities and buses used to transport about 2,000 evacuees to the 16 schools that served as shelters, the district said. The cost of busing totaled about $18,000.

To feed evacuees three meals a day each cost about $124,000. It was close to  $42,000 for utilities, about $25,000 for paper products and about $3,000 for generator fuel, the district said.

According to FEMA, Pinellas school district is one of more than 1,000 agencies and non-profits in Florida seeking reimbursement through its public assistance program for costs incurred during Hurricane Irma.

Contact Megan Reeves at Follow @mareevs.