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Second Appeal Letter
PA ID# 035-99035-00; Forrest County
DSR ID# Project Worksheet 8837; Mold Remediation
Thomas M. Womack
Governors Authorized Representative
Mississippi Emergency Management Agency
P.O. Box 5644
Pearl, MS 39208
Re: Second AppealForrest County, PA ID 035-99035-00, Mold Remediation
FEMA-1604-DR-MS, Project Worksheet (PW) 8837
Dear Mr. Womack:
This letter is in response to your letter dated May 12, 2008, which transmitted the referenced second appeal on behalf of Forrest County (Applicant). The Applicant is appealing the Department of Homeland Securitys Federal Emergency Management Agencys (FEMA) denial of Public Assistance funding for mold remediation and temporary relocation costs at the Forrest County Courthouse.
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina damaged the electrical distribution system in Forrest County. As a result, the Courthouse did not have power for nine days. The only damage to the Courthouse was several broken windows. The Applicant returned to the Courthouse after electrical power was restored and continued to use the building until May 2006. In May 2006, the Applicant relocated functions that were performed at the Courthouse to other facilities and initiated mold remediation measures at Courthouse. The mold remediation measures included the removal and replacement of ceiling tiles, carpeting, wall coverings, and fabric-covered furniture. In response to the Applicants request for assistance, FEMA initially prepared Project Worksheet (PW) 8837 for $506,108 for the estimated cost of mold remediation and temporary relocation. After inspecting the Courthouse and reviewing the proposed scope of work, FEMA determined that the work was not eligible because it was not required as a direct result of the disaster. Rather, the work was required because of deferred maintenance and post-storm negligence.
The Applicant submitted its first appeal in a letter dated February 9, 2007. Based on an analysis of storm damage performed by the Applicants consultant, the Applicant requested that FEMA provide funding for at least 40 percent of mold remediation costs. The Regional Administrator denied the first appeal in a letter dated January 17, 2008, stating that the Applicant failed to take prudent measures to clean and disinfect heating, ventilation, and, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and the facility was in significant disrepair prior to the disaster. Therefore, the damage was not a direct result of the disaster.
The Applicant submitted its second appeal in a letter dated March 12, 2008. The Applicant reasserts that it acted in a prudent manner by quickly restoring temperature and humidity control in an effort to minimize additional mold proliferation. The Applicant also contends that FEMA did not attempt to determine a reasonable apportionment between disaster-related and non-disaster-related damage and claims.
44 CFR §206.223 requires that to be eligible for assistance, an item of work must be the result of the disaster. As explained in the Regional Administrators first appeal response, mold and condition for mold propagation, existed at the Courthouse prior to the disaster. Therefore, the mold remediation work that the Applicant performed in May 2006 was not caused by Hurricane Katrina. Further, the Applicant did not provide any compelling reason to support its request to apportion 40 percent of the mold remediation costs to Hurricane Katrina. Regarding the negligence issue, it is reasonable to assume that one would change the filters and clean and disinfect the HVAC system before reactivating the system after nine days without power. However, the fact that the Applicant did not perform these activities is not a determining factor in this appeal determination.
I reviewed the all information submitted with the appeal and have determined that the mold remediation work that the Applicant performed was not caused by Hurricane Katrina. Accordingly, I am denying the second appeal.
Please inform the Applicant of my decision. This determination constitutes the final decision on this matter pursuant to 44 CFR §206.206.
James A. Walke
Acting Assistant Administrator
Disaster Assistance Directorate
cc: Major P. May
FEMA Region IV