Appeal Brief | Appeal Letter | Back
Second Appeal Letter
PA ID# 055-99055-00; Napa County
PW ID# Project Worksheet 3676; Slope Failure along Redwood Road
April 25, 2008
Governors Authorized Representative
Governors Office of Emergency Services
Response and Recovery Division
3650 Schriever Avenue
Mather, CA 95655
Re: Second AppealNapa County, PA ID 055-99055-00Slope Failure along Redwood Road
Project Worksheet (PW) 3676
Dear Ms. Koch:
This letter is in response to the referenced second appeal submitted by Napa County (Applicant) to your office by letter dated October 3, 2007, and transmitted to FEMA Region IX by your letter dated November 16, 2007. The Applicant is appealing the Department of Homeland Securitys Federal Emergency Management Agencys (FEMA) denial of assistance to stabilize a failed slope along Redwood Road.
On January 2, 2006, following heavy rains associated with a winter storm event, a slope failure occurred on the east side of Redwood Road in Napa County. The slope failure damaged approximately 90 feet of asphalt berm along Redwood Road and affected lateral support to the integral ground supporting the road. On March 10, 2006, FEMA conducted a Landslide Site Assessment and determined that the slope failure resulted from either disaster storms activating a pre-existing slip plane, or from disaster rains causing soils to lose their shear strength, or a combination of both. The FEMA geotechnical specialist who inspected the site recommended that a limited geotechnical investigation be conducted to determine the causes of the event.
Geotechnical engineers from the Applicants consulting engineering firm, Kleinfelder, Inc, visited the site on March 22, 2006 and April 27, 2006. In a report dated May 8, 2006, they made certain observations and recommendations, including the possibility that the slope failure occurred in a pre-existing unstable area.
On June 3, 2006, FEMA prepared PW 3676 which described the slope failure and provided an estimate of $784,015 to stabilize the slope and repair the road damage. However, on June 29, 2006, FEMA determined that the work was ineligible because the site was unstable due to pre-existing conditions. The PW noted that a slope failure at the same site had occurred in 2004 and been repaired by the Applicant in 2005.
In a letter dated October 26, 2006, the Applicant filed a first appeal objecting to FEMAs denial of assistance for the project. On December 27, 2006, the Governors Office of Emergency Services (OES) transmitted the Applicants first appeal to FEMA Region IX.
On March 23, 2007, the Deputy Regional Director of FEMA Region IX responded to the Applicants first appeal with a request for additional information to support the Applicants belief that the slope failure was not due to pre-existing conditions. In particular, the Deputy Regional Director requested additional information about the Applicants repairs of a slope failure at the same site in 2004. The Applicant responded with information supporting its contention that the slide could not be the result of pre-existing conditions since the depth of the DR-1628 slide is above the 2004 slide and that the most recent slide had occurred on a new slip plane.
After reviewing the geotechnical data provided by the Applicant, the Deputy Regional Administrator denied the Applicants first appeal in a letter dated July 13, 2007, citing the Recovery Policy 9524.2, Landslides Policy Related to Public Facilities
, which states that if a slope failure occurs in an area where slides have historically occurred, the Applicant must first stabilize the slope before FEMA can reimburse it for repairs to the public facility damaged by the disaster.
On October 3, 2007, the Applicant filed a second appeal in this matter requesting reconsideration of FEMAs denial of assistance, and arguing that the DR-1628 slide was not related to the 2004 slope failure but was the result of the unprecedented rainfall season of 2005/2006. In a letter dated November 16, 2007, the California OES supported the Applicants second appeal and recommended that FEMA approve a version of PW 3676 in the amount of $969,611, representing the actual costs of the Applicants work to stabilize the slope and repair to the damaged road.
Response and Recovery Policy 9524.2, Landslides Policy Related to Public Facilities
, dated August 11, 1999, states that responsibility for the restoration of a failed slope depends on whether the site was stable prior to the disaster event. The policy goes on to state that if the site is not stable, and the instability was not caused by the disaster, the cost to stabilize the site is the responsibility of the Applicant. The language of this section offers guidance on making this determination by stating that evidence of historical instability is sufficient evidence to determine that the instability was not caused by the disaster.
There is ample evidence that the site of the DR-1628 slope failure has been identified with landslides and slope failures in the past. Landslide maps for Napa County, available on the countys website, show that this area is located within a large landslide-prone area. The Kleinfelder, Inc. Geotechnical Investigation Report of October 13, 2006 made similar Findings:
USGS has mapped numerous landslides in this area including a large landslide that encompasses the subject failure;
Redwood Road adjacent to the active landslide has experienced multiple landslide events over the past 30 years;
Other historic failures have occurred in 1974-1976, 1983 and the late 1990s; and
It appears as though the active slide is located within the boundaries of a large bedrock landslide complex that extends from the near top of the ridge toward Redwood Creek to the northeast.
The fact that the slope failure along Redwood Road in DR-1628 appears to have occurred on a deeper slip-plane than the slope failure that occurred in 2004 does not support the Applicants contention that the site was stable at the time of the DR-1628 disaster. Rather, it is the most current evidence of the geologic instability of this specific location and of the general vicinity in which these and other slope failures have occurred.
Based on the information submitted by the Applicant, I have determined that the Deputy Regional Directors decision on the first appeal is consistent with Public Assistance regulations and policies. Therefore, the Applicants second appeal is denied.
Please inform the Applicant of my decision. My determination is the final decision on this matter pursuant to 44 CFR §206.206.
Carlos J. Castillo
Disaster Assistance Directorate
cc: Nancy Ward