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FEMA OKs Nearly $3 Million to Rebuild Irene-Destroyed SEPTA Embankment

Release date: 
February 1, 2013
Release Number: 

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Nearly $3 million in federal funding has been approved for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) to reconstruct a critical stretch of rail line in Delaware County, according to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today.

The funds covered reconstruction that was completed on a 40-foot-tall embankment that supported the Norristown High Speed Line between Roberts and Conestoga roads in Radnor Township. The 150-foot-long stretch of SEPTA train track was destroyed by heavy rains, including Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee floodwaters, during the period from Sept. 3 through Oct. 15.  

So much soil was washed away that the slope of land shifted out and down approximately 16 inches. Additionally, the shift caused the inbound set of tracks to drop approximately 12 inches.

A technique known as “soil nailing” was utilized to rebuild the slope. Soil nailing is a construction technique in which metal anchors, called “soil nails,” are either driven or drilled into rock or stable material to secure an unstable area. Grout is then pumped into and around the nails to permanently hold them. After the grout cures, a metal mesh fabric is affixed to the heads of the nails.     

Because the collapse of the embankment was a direct result of Hurricane Irene, the project to replace it qualifies for Public Assistance in Category G, which covers permanent repair or replacement of eligible damaged rail facilities. For a detailed description of Public Assistance categories see

FEMA has obligated $2,943,479 for the embankment to be restored to its pre-disaster condition. 

This amount comprises the 75 percent federal cost-share of the reconstruction project, which is estimated to cost a total of $3,924,639. The remaining 25 percent non-federal share will be paid by the Commonwealth.

FEMA manages the Public Assistance program, approves grants and provides technical assistance to the Commonwealth and applicants. The Commonwealth educates potential applicants, works with FEMA to manage the program and is responsible for implementing and monitoring the grants awarded under the program. Local officials are responsible for identifying damage, providing information necessary for FEMA to approve grants and managing each project funded under the program.

For a list of frequently asked questions about the federal Public Assistance process see

 FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. FEMA Region III’s jurisdiction includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.  Stay informed of FEMA’s activities online: videos and podcasts are available at and Follow us on Twitter at


Last Updated: 
March 6, 2013 - 11:49
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