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Second Appeal Brief
PA ID# 000-A0000-00; Multiple Applicants
PW ID# Multiple PWs; Howard Hanson Dam
Citation: FEMA-1817-DR-WA, Multiple Applicants, Howard Hanson Dam, Multiple Project Worksheets
Reference: Emergency Protective Measures
Summary: In January 2009, heavy rains and snowmelt caused flooding in multiple counties throughout the State of Washington. In the aftermath of the flooding, two depressions were noted in the right earthen abutment of the Howard Hanson Dam (HHD), which is owned and operated by the U.S. Corps of Engineers (USACE). USACE tested the depressions and observed an increased rate of seepage through the right abutment; they also noticed the discharge of turbid water from one of the HHD’s vertical drains indicating a loss of fine soil particles. Fearing catastrophic failure of the HHD from piping, the USACE began interim repair measures. USACE informed surrounding communities that until the interim repairs were completed, there would be an increased risk of flooding in the event of a severe storm due to the reduced capacity of the HHD. USACE completed interim repairs on November 4, 2009, by installing horizontal drains and an injected grout curtain. Beginning in September 2009, the Applicants in the Green River Valley implemented measures to prepare for the risk of flooding during the upcoming 2009-2010 flood season. Examples of actions taken by Applicants included shoring up levees in the valley, establishing a redundant electrical system for Sea-Tac Airport, temporarily relocating King County Board of Elections, constructing flood walls around the perimeters of facilities, and purchasing emergency generators. The Applicants are requesting over $31 million to cover this work claiming that it was necessary to respond to an immediate threat. FEMA denied the first appeal because the measures undertaken by the Applicants did not meet the criteria of emergency protective measures as the affected facilities were not damaged during the declared event. In the second appeal, the Applicants claim, based on information communicated by USACE, that there was an immediate threat of flooding as a direct result of the disaster, and that their actions qualify as eligible emergency protective measures necessary to alleviate the cited threat.
Issue: Did the declared disaster cause damage to the HHD such that it resulted in an immediate threat of additional damage to the properties in the Green River Valley?
Finding: No. Seepage through the right abutment has been an ever present issue since construction of the HHD and was not caused by the disaster. Furthermore, excavations of the depressions revealed that the disaster did not cause internal erosion or piping of the right abutment.
Rationale: Section 403 of the Stafford Act; 44 CFR §§ 206.201(b), 206.220(c), and 206.225