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Second Appeal Analysis
PA ID# 000-UCCM7-00; Village Center Commuity Development District
PW ID# Project Worksheet 5977; North Rapid Infiltration Basin
Hurricane Frances made landfall in Florida on September 7, 2004, causing widespread damage from powerful winds and rain. The Village Center Community Development District (Applicant) reported sinkholes in the North Rapid Infiltration Basin (RIB) of the Little Sumter Utility (LSU) wastewater treatment plant. Immediately following the hurricane, the Applicant filled the depressions with clay soil (expenses not claimed to FEMA) and contracted with its engineering firm to test the subsurface conditions at the site. The resulting engineering report, dated September 29, 2004, stated that heavy rains likely triggered the sinkhole activity and recommended two stabilization options: fill the eroded areas with clay (which had already been done) and monitor the site; or, stabilize the affected area with subsurface sand slurry injection.
According to a March 15, 2005, letter from the engineering firm to the Applicant, the Applicant had chosen the first optionfiling the sinkholes with clay and monitoringfollowing the September event. The letter reported that months after the work was completed, other sinkholes developed in the same general area and it now proposed stabilizing the area with the sand slurry injection, as detailed in the engineering report. A subsequent letter, dated March 30, 2005, stated that because filling the open holes with clay had not worked, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection required that more extensive repairs be made to try and avoid future problems in the area. It estimated the cost for the sand slurry injection to be $100,000 or more. On April 29, 2005, the Applicant prepared a purchase order with an estimated cost of $128,000 for engineering fees and sand grouting of the sinkholes at the LSU wastewater treatment plant.
FEMA prepared Project Worksheet (PW) 5977 on May 9, 2005 and obligated for $0 because the information provided did not show conclusively that the disaster caused the sinkholes. First Appeal
The Applicant submitted its first appeal on October 13, 2005, asking for $105,000 to stabilize the subsurface in the sinkhole areas. It included the engineering report and also referenced PW 2370 from FEMA-1561-DR-FL, which it states is almost identical to its own PW. PW 2370 was written for a neighboring county and obligated for $14,452 for contract labor to evaluate sink-hole damage, test soil, and back fill and compact fill material from an onsite stockpile. FEMA denied the first appeal on October 30, 2006. Based on language in the engineering report, it concluded that the sinkhole was a pre-existing condition and not a direct result of the hurricane.Second Appeal
The Applicant submitted its second appeal on February 5, 2007. It stated that FEMA had misinterpreted the engineering report, pointed to PW 2370 from FEMA-1561-DR-FL, and referenced section 406 of the Stafford Act, which authorizes FEMA to restore damaged facilities. DISCUSSION:
The engineering report refers to erosional areas caused by heavy rains associated with the declared event that triggered the sinkhole activity. However, the report also indicated subsurface instability that existed prior to the disaster as evidenced by an in-filled cavity caused by past sinkhole activity. The report recommended one of two options to repair the damage. The first, which the Applicant chose, was to fill the sinkhole areas with clay soil. This scope of work would be eligible for FEMA reimbursement as it restored the facility to predisaster condition, in accordance with 44 CFR §206.226. The Applicant did not claim expenses related to this work.
In this case, the facility had been repaired to predisaster condition and subsequent damage, as reported in the March 15, 2005, letter from the engineering firm to the Applicant, occurred prior to FEMAs inspection. The Applicant then requested to stabilize the area with the sand slurry injection, recommended as the second option by the engineering report. The requested work alters the subsurface soil to reduce the potential for future sinkhole activity. It fixes a predisaster condition not caused by the disaster. Work must be required as a direct result of the declared event in order to be eligible under 44 CFR §206.223(a)(3).
The Applicant refers to PW 2370 written for Marion County in FEMA-1561-DR-FL. The damage in Marion County was a large sinkhole at a wastewater treatment plant that disrupted the drainage and posed an immediate threat to adjacent structures. The scope of work included: hiring an engineering firm to evaluate damages and test the soil; and hiring a contractor to back-fill and compact the sink-hole area. FEMA obligated the PW for $14,452 on May 12, 2005. The Marion County project is similar to the Applicants in that it is a sinkhole at a wastewater treatment facility. However, in this case the sinkhole disrupted drainage and posed a threat to improved property. Furthermore, the scope of work repaired the sinkhole to predisaster condition by backfilling and compacting soil. It did not alter the subsurface soil. CONCLUSION
The Applicant is requesting reimbursement for costs that go beyond repair to predisaster condition. The subsurface geological conditions at the site are not a direct result of the disaster. The eligible work, in this case, was backfilling and compacting soil in the sinkholes. The Applicant did not request reimbursement or submit documentation related to these costs. However, if the Applicant can provide such documentation to the Region, PW will be prepared