The St. Petersburg Times reports that claimants along the un-oiled portions of Florida’s Gulf Coast are finally receiving money from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility, as the fund begins issuing final payments.
Because the claims facility could not provide data on how much money has flowed to each county, the article is forced to rely on anecdotes:
In recent weeks, tourism businesses got long-awaited relief: money from the agency administering BP’s $20 billion compensation fund to cover financial losses caused by the spill.
More than 68,000 Florida individuals and businesses have received $992 million so far, says the Gulf Coast Claims Facility. Nearly 20,000 businesses alone were paid $592 million.
The agency couldn’t break out on Wednesday the number of payments in Pinellas. But 5,186 Pinellas residents and businesses filed claims, ninth most among Florida counties. Hillsborough’s 2,689 claimants ranked No. 10 in the state.
The facility had been publishing county-by-county breakdowns of payments as recently as two weeks ago, but the information no longer appears among its published statistics.
I happened to take a look at such a breakdown recently, when Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon said in an interview that he’d been told the fund had paid $60 million along the west coast of the Florida peninsula near the tail end of the emergency claims process, which formally ended the week of Dec. 14.
As of Dec. 17, the area between Dixie and Monroe counties, stretching along the coast from just below the Big Bend to Key West, has received nearly $150 million since the claims facility took over the payment process from BP in August, according to data I saved at the time.
The lion’s share — some $66 million — has gone to Monroe, where beaches were once expected to be blanketed by tarballs. Pinellas ranked second among those counties, having received just over $35 million.
The other 10 counties in the area accounted for less than half the $150 million total, which pales in comparison to some of the hardest-hit areas of the state. Florida as a whole received just under $1 billion in emergency payments, according to the facility; most of the money went to the western panhandle, where oil did come ashore.
Why is the county-by-county breakdown no longer available? This data would be important for anyone interested in finding out how Floridians are faring, and how claims administrator Kenneth Feinberg is handling so-called proximity claims (those originating from un-oiled parts of the state) as the fund gets set to begin issuing final payments.