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Second Appeal Letter
PA ID# 079-85152-00; City of Wilkes-Barre
PW ID# 119; Scope of Work
January 11, 2010
Alternate Governor’s Authorized Representative
Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency
2605 Interstate Drive
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17110-9364
Re: Second Appeal–City of Wilkes-Barre, PA ID 079-85152-00, Scope of Work,
FEMA-1684-DR-PA, Project Worksheet (PW) 119
Dear Mr. Forr:
This is in response to your letter dated January 27, 2009, which transmitted the referenced second appeals on behalf of the City of Wilkes-Barre (Applicant). The Applicant appealed the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) denial of the change in the scope of work for debris removal from Laurel Run and Mill Creek.
On February 23, 2007, the President declared a major disaster for severe storms and flooding that occurred in Pennsylvania on November 16-17, 2006. FEMA prepared PW 119 for the removal of disaster related debris from Laurel Run and Mill Creek. The scope of work specifically designated areas for debris to be removed to eliminate an immediate threat. FEMA funded $20,550 to remove 473 cubic yards (CY) of debris. The Applicant submitted documentation indicating that 10,308 CY of debris were removed for a total cost of $322,528.
The Applicant submitted its first appeal in a letter dated October 17, 2008, requesting a change in the scope of work, from a small project to a large project. Specifically, the Applicant claimed that all of the debris was disaster-related. The Regional Administrator denied the first appeal; because the Applicant did not provide documentation to support that the additional debris removal work was required as a result of the disaster. Further, the Applicant did not demonstrate that the additional debris removal was necessary for the channel to convey a five-year flood event, or that a five-year flood would cause any damage if the debris was not removed. Additionally, the Regional Administrator pointed out that the appeal was submitted more than one year beyond the regulatory deadline.
In a letter dated February 13, 2009, the Applicant submitted its second appeal. The Applicant argued that the debris was a result of the declared disaster and that its appeal was submitted within the 60-day regulatory period.
After a declared major disaster, FEMA may provide reimbursement to eligible applicants for costs incurred to remove debris when it is necessary to eliminate immediate threats to life, public health, and safety; or to eliminate immediate threats of significant damage to improved public or private property (44 CFR §206.224, Debris removal). An immediate threat, as defined by 44 CFR § 206.221(c), Immediate threat, means the threat of additional damage or destruction from an event that can reasonably be expected to occur within five years or, in this case, a storm event that has a 20% chance of occurring annually. The Applicant has not provided information to substantiate that the additional debris removal was necessary to eliminate an immediate threat. Therefore, the removal of the additional debris is not eligible and expansion of the scope of work to include all debris removal from the Laurel Run and Mill Creek is not warranted.
I have reviewed all of the information submitted in the Applicant’s second appeal and determined that the Regional Administrator’s decision in the first appeal is consistent with Public Assistance regulations and policy. Accordingly, I am denying the second appeal.
Please inform the Applicant of my decision. My determination constitutes the final decision on this matter pursuant to 44 CFR §206.206, Appeals.
Elizabeth A. Zimmerman
Disaster Assistance Directorate
cc: Patricia Arcuri
Acting Regional Administrator
FEMA Region III