Summary: Heavy rains caused a landslide that undermined the base of a retaining wall resulting in wall movement. This caused the road to move outward forming a 6-inch-wide crack in the pavement. DSR 46225 was written for $72,445 to cover repairs to the roadway with a soldier beam and lagging retaining wall. The DSR inspectors believed the damage was not caused by the disaster. The DSR was suspended pending completion of a geotechnical study by the County. The study concluded that a shallow-seated landslide caused by heavy rainfall was the initiating event. The County requested that DSR 46225 be taken out of suspension. FEMA denied the request for funding because the roadway was stable and the wall movement was due to lack of a drainage system. The County appealed claiming that geotechnical reports supported their claim. The site was re-inspected by a joint FEMA, OES, and LACDPW team, who concluded that the landslide and resulting road damage were caused by the declared disaster event. FEMA denied the appeal because the County did not provide sufficient documentation to establish that the failure resulted from the disaster. Also, FEMA does not provide funding for site stabilization. In their second appeal, the County defended the design of the cemented rock retaining wall: "The wall has lasted for almost 25 years prior to the disaster." They claimed that the soldier piles stabilize the underlying slope as well as the road.
Was the damage to the road caused by the disaster?
Is the soldier pile retaining wall eligible for funding?
Yes. A FEMA geotechnical engineer confirmed this during a site visit.
Yes. Support for the roadbed was re-established without having to repair the landslide or the damaged rock wall.
Rationale: FEMA policy applicable to this situation reads as follows: "If the site is found to be unstable and the instability was exclusively caused by the disaster, the cost to restore the facility at the original site and the ground necessary to physically support the facility is eligible."