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Thursday, May 30, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsUPDATE: FEMA Commits in Excess of $1.1 Billion to Replace Schneider Hospital

UPDATE: FEMA Commits in Excess of $1.1 Billion to Replace Schneider Hospital

The fourth floor Roy Lester Schneider Hospital shortly after hurricanes Irma and Maria struck the island in September 2017. (Shaun A. Pennington photo)
The fourth floor of Roy Lester Schneider Hospital shortly after hurricanes Irma and Maria struck the island in September 2017. (Shaun A. Pennington photo)

A  press release sent from FEMA Monday stating the agency had committed $928.7 million in disaster recovery funds to demolish and replace Roy Lester Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas had not factored in an adjusted cost share increase announced last week. FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said Thursday the new amount allocated to RLSH in excess of $1.1 billion had not been phased into the system yet.

The FEMA recovery funds were committed after the devastating back-to-back Category 5 hurricanes that struck the territory in 2017.

The prudent replacement of Schneider Hospital, made possible under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, clears a path for the demolition of the five-story, 254,270-square-foot concrete masonry building and the construction of a new 439,910-square-foot hospital on the existing site in Sugar Estate, according to Monday’s release specific to the hospital.

FEMA has committed the revised cost share of $1,110,234,146 to replace Schneider Hospital and repair Charlotte Kimmelman Cancer Institute on St. Thomas, an increase of $181,000. The project to repair the Kimmelman Cancer Institute includes the demolition of the facility’s interior and $170,791 in hazard mitigation measures to make the facility more resilient to withstand future hurricanes better, the press release stated.

The new agreement announced last week increased the cost share, which had initially been 90 percent FEMA funds and 10 percent local, after many pleas from Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. and others, to upwards of 95 percent. In the case of the RLSH funding, it is set at 98.2 percent FEMA and 1.8 percent local funds.

In making the adjustment, a release from FEMA said President Joe Biden indicated the decision was based upon the fiscal challenges that the original cost share requirement presented to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The entire increase for disaster recovery funds resulting from the adjustment amounts to $1.1 billion across the territory, separate from the money for the St. Thomas hospital.

The release from FEMA regarding the Biden-Harris administration decision to increase the federal share overall stated, “increasing the federal cost share will not only enable and accelerate needed recovery projects but it will also allow the U.S. Virgin Islands to leverage existing Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funding to address other critical aspects of disaster recovery, including resilient, affordable housing, economic revitalization and other projects that will invest in the territory’s future.”

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