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Second Appeal Summary
PA ID# 091-00000; Sierra County
DSR ID# 82809; Supplemental Request
Citation: FEMA-979-DR-CA; Sierra County, DSR 82809
Cross-Reference: Landslide; FEMA Landslide Policy; Pre-disaster Condition.
Summary: Lavezzola Road was constructed on a steep natural slope above the Downie River. Runoff from 1993 storms caused a pre-existing landslide to re-activate. Vertical faulting occurred along approximately 300 feet of the road. It was feared that if this area were not stabilized, it had the potential of sliding downslope creating a dam across the river, thus threatening the downstream town of Downieville. Seven DSRs were prepared in the aggregate amount of $370,840 for various technical studies, surveys and monitoring activities to assess the immediate threat posed by a landslide, and to perform feasibility studies for re-establishing the road. The studies concluded that a landslide was likely in the near future, that the volume of landslide material would not be high enough to dam the river, and that there was no feasible way to re-establish a roadbed having long-term stability. On December 17, 1994, a landslide occurred beneath the road, preventing vehicle access and partially blocking the river. To re-establish access, the subgrantee constructed a temporary road by cutting deeper into the hillside. After two years of monitoring, the new roadbed appears to be stable. The subgrantee requested FEMA to reimburse the construction cost of the road. FEMA denied the request because according to the landslide policy once a site has been found to be unstable due to a pre-existing condition, the subgrantee is responsible for stabilizing the site. The subgrantee appealed. FEMA denied the appeal. The subgrantee submitted the second appeal.
- Should FEMA reimburse the costs associated with the construction of the temporary bypass road?
- Are the costs to convert the temporary bypass into a permanent road eligible?
- No. The hillside has a 40-plus year history of progressive upslope landslide failure.
- Yes. Once a stabilized roadbed has been created by the subgrantee, the costs to restore the facility (aggregate pavement and surface drainage) are eligible.
Rationale: As set forth in 44 CFR 206.223 (a)(1), to be eligible work must be required as a result of a declared disaster event. Additionally, landslide policy states: "if the site is found to be unstable due to an identified, pre-existing condition, the applicant is responsible for stabilizing the site. Once the site has been stabilized, the cost to restore the facility at the original site is eligible."