Gulf Coast Claims Facility website:
or call 1-800-916-4893
for the hearing impaired use TTY assistance at 1-866-682-1758
The good news: the oil well is permanently sealed as of Sunday.
The bad news: people are still waiting for their claims to be processed.
Ken Feinberg, the Washington, D.C. attorney who was chosen by the Whitehouse to disperse the funds and process the claims, had promised that the process would be moving along much more quickly than it had been when BP was in charge.
This turns out not to be the case, because as of this date, the majority of the claims have yet to be processed. Of the more than 17,000 emergency claims submitted, barely 5,000 have been settled by the Gulf Coast Claims Facility and none of the state’s ‘final’ claims have been resolved. So far, the claims have totaled less than $40 million.
Governor Charlie Crist has criticized the claims process, saying “I think it would be more appropriate for us* to co-sign a letter encouraging increased urgency. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for some businesses to be able to hang on. Twenty billion is no small sum of change, but it’s no good unless it’s utilized.”
Feinberg defended the process saying previously that claims from businesses not in the immediate proximity and without clear documentation will not be paid. This presents a hardship for many of Florida’s businesses, essentially because the entire state depends on tourism as a primary source of revenue, regardless of whether their town is located at the beach or not. The oil spill affected not just beach towns, but towns that were stopping places on the way to the beach. Restaurants and hotels, even bookstores saw a drop in revenue, in spite of the fact that many of the beaches remained oil free.
The perception that there would be a problem was enough to keep vacationers away and with the beaches relatively empty, the towns that were visited on the way down remained even more so.
Feinberg defended himself while speaking to the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, but indicated he’d try to be more ‘flexible’ in his thinking. Claiming he was walking a tight rope and saying he made no promises, Feinberg stated that the proximity to the spill had to have ‘relevance’ because otherwise the claim center ‘would be inundated with claims from 50 states.’
Mr. Feinberg should take into consideration some common sense.
*Governor Christ and the Cabinet