FEMA Gives County Reprieve to Apply for Hospital Funds

Los Angeles County, which stood to lose $4.6 million in federal earthquake relief funds earmarked for rebuilding County-USC Medical Center, won a reprieve after FEMA officials extended a key deadline for receiving the money.

County officials had been in danger of missing the deadline because of delays in deciding on the size of a new main building of the hospital. But in a letter to the state office of emergency services released Tuesday, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials agreed to extend the deadline by four years to January 2003.

County officials had requested an eight-year extension, but they welcomed the extra time nonetheless.

"We're very pleased," said Chief Administrative Officer Sandra Davis, adding that the extension was essential in allowing the project to move forward.

In his letter to the state, FEMA Acting Public Assistance Officer John P. Murphy III said that the county's construction plan "is of a longer time frame than what would normally be allowed for similar sized projects."

But he said that as long as the county demonstrates that the work is proceeding in a timely manner, future extensions are likely to be granted if they are needed.

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