Summary: Winter storms in March 1995 caused flooding in the City of San Luis Obispo (City) overwhelming a storm drainage system of piped and open flow sections that ran mostly through private property (not within a right-of-way or easement) along Lizzie Street. The system failed in several locations causing damage to both public and private property, as well as blocking the system with debris. The City performed emergency measures during and after the disaster, and then decided to install a new storm drainage system beneath Lizzie Street. Damage survey report (DSR) 11312 was written on August 22, 1995, estimating $177,436 for the construction of 750 feet of new storm sewer beneath the street. The project had been completed at the time of the damage survey. DSR 11312 was ruled ineligible by FEMA Region IX because the damage was to private property, and not eligible for funding. A separate DSR (83562) was prepared for $1,450 to cover eligible repairs to the small portion of the system that was on public property . The City submitted its first appeal arguing that the new storm system was an emergency protective measure, and not permanent work, disagreeing with the FEMA assertion that the damage was primarily to private property. The City asserted, without documentation, that the drainage system components - both culvert and open channel components -are interrelated with numerous maintained public facilities constituting a single municipal system. The first appeal was denied by Region IX, stating that the work involved repair or replacement of damaged private property that was not eligible for permanent restoration and the installation of a new, permanent system could not be considered an emergency protective measure. The City submitted a second appeal asserting that the replacement of the storm drainage system with the storm sewer beneath Lizzie Street was a swift response to an immediate threat and thus should be eligible for FEMA funding as an emergency measure.
Was the existing storm drainage system a public facility and eligible for permanent restoration?
Is replacement of a non-engineered collection of storm drainage elements with a below-street, piped collector system eligible as an emergency protective measure?
No. The storm drainage system consisted of a mix of storm flow elements primarily through private property. No documentation was submitted to establish it as a public facility and it did not lie within a public easement or right-of-way.
No. The relocation and construction of a new storm sewer system to replace the old one would not be eligible, because there was no damage to an eligible facility. However, eligible funds for debris removal would have been eligible as a Category A measure.
Rationale: According to 44 CFR 206.225(a)(3), only measures taken in response to an immediate threat to life or improved property are eligible for Federal assistance as emergency protective measures. Installation of a new system does not constitute an emergency measure. In addition, 44CFR206.223(a)(3) states that an item of work must be the legal responsibility of an eligible applicant in order to be eligible for Public Assistance.