May 15, 2012
Nebraska Emergency Management Agency
1300 Military Road
Lincoln, Nebraska 68508-1090
Re: Second Appeal–City of Blair, PA ID 177-05350-00, Snow Removal, FEMA-1878-DR-NE, Project Worksheets (PWs) 466 & 469
Dear Mr. Berndt:
This is in response to your letter dated August 17, 2011, which transmitted the referenced second appeal on behalf of the City of Blair (Applicant). The Applicant is appealing the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) denial of funding in the amount of $14,586 for snow removal costs.
From December 22, 2009 through January 8, 2010, a severe winter storm swept across the State of Nebraska and impacted the City of Blair. The storm caused extreme blizzard like conditions, high winds, and massive drifting. FEMA prepared Project Worksheet (PW) 466 to document the cost of force account labor, materials and equipment used for general roadway snow removal in the amount of $14,586. FEMA determined that the requested snow removal costs were ineligible, because the county was not authorized for snow assistance as part of the major disaster declaration (FEMA-1878-DR-NE). Project Worksheet (PW) 469 was prepared for road repairs due to damage caused by snowplows. Since the snow removal was ineligible, the resulting road damage repair was also deemed ineligible.
In a letter dated December 21, 2010, the Applicant submitted its first appeal asking FEMA to designate Washington County as a county authorized for snow assistance under FEMA-1878-DR-NE. The Applicant stated that based on the 2-day snowfall record of 12 inches for Washington County it should have been designated for snow assistance. The snowfall for December 25, 2009 was 8.1 inches and for December 26, 2009 was 4.7 inches, or a 2-day total of 12.8 inches. The County was never designated for snow assistance as part of the major disaster declaration and the Regional Administrator denied the first appeal on that basis.
The Applicant submitted its second appeal in a letter dated July 20, 2011. The Applicant reiterated its contention that Washington County, Nebraska should have been designated for snow assistance under the major disaster declaration (FEMA-1878-DR-NE). The Applicant did not submit new documentation with the second appeal.
As part of a major disaster declaration request, Title 44 of the Code of Federal Regulations (44 CFR) §206.40, requires a Governor to specify the counties requested for authorization of assistance from FEMA. Pursuant to 44 CFR §206.36, the Governor’s request should also include the types of Supplementary Federal disaster assistance needed, such as snow assistance as an emergency protective measure under the Public Assistance Program. When the Governor requested the declaration of a major disaster for the severe winter storm and snowstorm occurring December 22, 2009, to January 8, 2010, in Nebraska, he requested that Public Assistance (Categories A through G) be authorized for 48 counties, and that snow assistance as an emergency protective measure be authorized for 15 counties. Washington County was included in the request for Public Assistance (Categories A through G), but it was not included in the request for snow assistance. On February 25, 2010, the President declared a major disaster for the severe winter storm and snowstorm, and authorized Public Assistance (Categories A though G) for 34 counties, including Washington County, and snow assistance as an emergency protective measure for five counties that met record or near-record criteria, which did not include Washington County. The Governor later requested an additional three counties to be designated for snow assistance (two of which were authorized); however, this request did not include Washington County.
Under FEMA regulations (44 CFR §206.227) and Disaster Assistance Policy (DAP) 9523.1 Snow Assistance and Severe Winter Storm Policy, snow assistance – which includes snow removal, de-icing, salting, snow dumps, and sanding of roads – may be authorized for a limited period of time when a county receives record or near-record snowfall. In order to establish whether a county has had a record or near-record snowfall, FEMA relies upon snowfall data for an incident that is verified by the National Weather Service and compares this to historical snowfall information maintained by the National Climactic Data Center (NCDC). For the incident in question, the Applicant reported that the weather station at Fort Calhoun received a two-day snowfall of 12.8” and stated that this exceeded a 12” record for a two-day snowfall for Washington County, as recorded at the Cooperative Network Station in Blair and reported by NCDC. However, the 12” record pertains only to historical snowfall in the month of December. FEMA compares actual snowfall measurements to the all-time record for a county regardless of the month in which it occurred. The annual record two-day snowfall for Washington County as reported by NCDC is 20”. The two-day snowfall of 12.8” is less than the two-day record of 20” for the County. It is also 64% of the record, and so it does not qualify as near-record.
Washington County did not receive record or near-record snowfall during the December 22, 2009 to January 8, 2010 severe winter storm and snowstorm event, and was not designated for snow assistance as an emergency protective measure under the major disaster declaration for this incident (FEMA-1878-DR-NE). The Applicant is therefore ineligible to receive snow assistance under FEMA’s Public Assistance Program for the cost of snow removal for this incident. The cost of damage caused by snow plowing is also ineligible, as it was caused in the performance of work that was not eligible.
I have reviewed the information submitted with the appeal and determined that the Regional Administrator’s decision in the first appeal is consistent with Public Assistance Program regulations and policy. Accordingly, I am denying the second appeal.
Please inform the Applicant of my decision. This determination constitutes the final decision on this matter as set forth in 44 CFR §206.206, Appeals.
cc: Beth Freeman
FEMA Region VII