Early indications from the Dynamic Pressure and Moisture Intrusion Testing conducted at the Marina Civic Center today show Hurricane Michael-force winds blew storm water into the facility’s exterior mechanical room.
NOVA Engineering and Environmental, LLC will spend the next two weeks analyzing the data collected today and provide a final damage report for the City.
The City believes that the results from the testing will demonstrate that the equipment inside the exterior mechanical room was damaged by storm water on October 10, 2018 which warrants that the performing arts center be replaced and not repaired.
Today’s testing was witnessed by staff from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Florida Department of Emergency Management (FDEM ), Congressman Neal Dunn's Office as well as local media.
The City of Panama City is simulating Hurricane Michael-force wind and rain conditions at the Marina Civic Center on Thursday, June 10, 2021 in an effort to receive all eligible funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the rebuild of the performing arts center.
The Marina Civic Center, located along St. Andrew Bay, was severely damaged on October 10, 2018 when Hurricane Michael came ashore just east of Panama City as a Category 5 storm.
The City and FEMA have not come to a mutual agreement on whether the facility’s HVAC System and Fire Protection System were damaged as a result of Hurricane Michael, or if the system has instead deteriorated in the last two and a half years. The determination amounts to a difference of $21,881,426 in eligible funding.
“FEMA requires the City to show that the equipment was damaged as a result of Hurricane Michael, in order for us to be eligible for this funding,” said City Manager Mark McQueen. “So, we are going to attempt to recreate a once-in-a-generation hurricane.”
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Michael, FEMA was unable to send enough site inspectors to Northwest Florida to conduct damage assessments for all applicants due to a staff shortage. The City contracted with Mott MacDonald to produce an engineer’s report as a substitute. The report determined that the cost to repair the damage exceeded 50 percent of the cost to replace the facility; therefore, the City submitted a request through FEMA’s Public Assistance Program for replacement cost eligibility for the Marina Civic Center.
The estimated replacement cost is $33,731,374. Despite certified engineer’s reports, FEMA issued a determination memorandum denying $21,881,426 of the City’s request for replacement cost and is offering $11,849,948 to repair the structure.
The City is filing an appeal disputing FEMA’s initial determination and is contracting with NOVA Engineering and Environmental, LLC (NOVA) to provide Dynamic Pressure and Moisture Intrusion Testing at the facility. The City believes this testing will show that water entered the exterior mechanical room and damaged the electronic equipment inside.
NOVA will simulate storm conditions at the exterior mechanical room on the southwest side of the facility as they were on October 10, 2018. Testing conditions will be based on data from NOAA and other sources for wind direction, wind speed and rainfall. The test is designed to measure and document the degree of moisture saturation inside the exterior mechanical room as a result of exposure to the simulated storm conditions for four hours.
“The testing demonstrates the extraordinary lengths that the City has taken to ensure our community receives all of the funding that it is eligible for as we work to become the premier city in the Florida Panhandle,” said Mark McQueen. “We will continue to practice fiscal discipline and be careful stewards of our citizens’ hard-earned dollars as we rebuild Panama City.”
As a precaution for citizens and their vehicles, the parking lot for the Marina Civic Center, including the boat ramp, will be closed beginning on Wednesday, June 9 at 8 p.m. through Thursday, June 10 at 5 p.m. Citizens are urged to avoid this area on Thursday, June 10 as testing is expected to cause a considerable amount of periodic wind noise beginning at 8 a.m. for up to eight hours.