PA ID# 087-99087-00; St. Bernard Parish
PW ID# 19466; Commercial Property Demolitions
Citation: FEMA-1603-DR-LA, St. Bernard Parish, Commercial Property Demolitions, Project Worksheet (PW) 19466
Cross- Reference: Emergency Protective Measures; Emergency Work
Summary: St. Bernard Parish (Applicant) requested Public Assistance funding for the demolition of 290 privately-owned commercial buildings damaged during Hurricane Katrina. FEMA inspected the properties and found 184 of the buildings to be in immediate danger of collapse and posing a threat to public health and safety. FEMA approved funding for these structures as part of PWs 3070 and 15804, which also provided funding for the demolition of residential structures. FEMA prepared PW 19466 to document the Applicant’s request to demolish the remaining 106 private commercial buildings, but determined the buildings did not meet the criteria of posing an immediate threat to life, public health and safety and obligated PW 19466 for zero dollars. In a first appeal letter, the Applicant agreed that 84 of the 106 properties were not eligible for Public Assistance funding. However, the Applicant claimed that the demolition and debris removal of the remaining 22 structures were eligible at a cost of approximately $1 million. The Applicant argued that the structures continued to present an immediate threat to public health and safety, and demolition of the buildings was essential to the economic recovery of the major thoroughfare into St. Bernard Parish and the surrounding community. The Regional Administrator denied the first appeal stating that after several inspections, FEMA had determined that none of the 22 buildings experienced a loss of structural integrity as a result of the disaster and therefore, did not qaulify as an immediate threat to life, public health and safety. The Regional Administrator explained that denial for requested funding of the demolition did not constitute a hindrance to the economic recovery of the community as the majority of the 22 buildings were demolished more than 4 years after the disaster. The Applicant argues in the second appeal that FEMA’s applicable policies and guidance did not require that a damaged building be structurally unsound in order to be eligible for demolition. One property was found by FEMA to be eligible for demolition, but was incorrectly included on PW 19466.
Issues: 1.) Did the 21 commercial buildings pose an immediate threat to public health and safety?
2.) Is the demolition of the 21 commercial buildings essential to the economic recovery of the community?
Finding: 1.) No.
Rationale: Stafford Act, Section 403, Essential Assistance; 44 CFR §206.225, Emergency work; 44 CFR §206.224(a), Debris removal, Public interest; R&R Policy 9523.4, Demolition of Private and Public Facilities, (11/09/99); PA Debris Management Guide, FEMA 325 April 1999