Region III is an area rich in historic resources. In Virginia alone there are over 2,000 sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Region III was the heart of the colonies and the setting for the beginnings of our nation. The homes of many of our founding fathers still remain, as well as important buildings, battlegrounds, churches, farms, bridges, and even roads. There are also valuable archaeological sites, many containing the story of Native American history and culture. It is important that we preserve this history for future generations, and both you and FEMA have a responsibility to consider this as you recover from any disaster.
FEMA is required by the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) to take into account the effects of demolition, repair, reconstruction and relocation on historic properties within the disaster area. A historic property is any prehistoric or historic district, site, building, structure, or object included in or eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. This term includes properties of traditional religious and cultural importance to an Indian tribe, Native Alaskan or Native Hawaiian organization. Many of these structures are not on the National Register of Historic Places, but may be eligible for listing on the National Register. Properties eligible for listing are afforded the same review under NHPA. Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requires FEMA to consult with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) on projects prior to providing federal funding. A good rule of thumb to follow is that any structure receiving Federal assistance that is 50 years or older, or that otherwise has specific archaeological, historical, cultural or architectural significance, must be reviewed before beginning any demolition, repair, reconstruction or relocation activity.
Demolition and Repair
Before beginning any demolition, construction or repair work that involves historic and potentially historic structures, (i.e., buildings, bridges or other structures) please submit the following to the SHPO through FEMA:
- A project scope describing the property/structure(s), age, exact location and address, current and past use (if known), and proposed work.
- Clear photographs, hard copy or digital (no photo copies please) of all sides of structure.
For further information, please contact FEMA Environmental Office or your State Historic Preservation Office.
Relocation and New Construction
Before beginning any project that involves ground disturbance such as leveling plots of ground or digging utility trenches, the area must be reviewed by the SHPO for archeological concerns. Projects may include road realignment, relocating a utility, constructing a material borrow pit or a new debris disposal site. Archeological concerns may not be immediately apparent to the average person, and care must be taken not to disturb sites containing possible clues to our history. Archeological materials may come in the form of buried bones, Native American camp sites, stone tools, abandoned industrial facilities such as factories and mines, historic house foundations, wells, outhouse pits, and trash scatters. Failure to take appropriate care may result in loss of federal funding.
Prior to beginning any project on previously undisturbed areas, the following must be submitted to the SHPO through FEMA:
- An accurate map of the project area with the project boundary clearly indicated.
- (SHPO prefers a USGS topographic quad sheet whenever available.)
- A brief description of all proposed work (include depth for subsurface impacts)
- NOTE - If any buried cultural materials are encountered after the work begins (such as wells, cisterns, foundations, basements, prehistoric Indian artifacts, or human burials), please cease work and immediately call the SHPO.
For reviews of any work that involves surface-level or subsurface ground disturbances, please contact your State Historic Preservation Office.