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Second Appeal Analysis
PA ID# 061-99061-00; Haskell County
DSR ID# N/A; Debris Removal
A severe ice storm in late December 2000 and early January 2001 severely impacted Haskell County, Oklahoma. The weight of ice damaged many trees in the County and vegetative debris was strewn over many roads throughout the County. The president declared a major disaster for the state of Oklahoma on January 5, 2001. Federal assistance was initially provided at 75%; however, on March 13, 2001 the Federal cost share was increased to 100% for the period January 5, 2001 to July 6, 2001. Haskell County contracted with Phillip and Jordan Company on February 6, 2001, to remove and dispose of eligible debris from County roads and rights-of-way for $10.80 per cubic yard. The County completed debris removal operations in late June 2001.
The County requested reimbursement of $3.85 million for debris removal. FEMA approved funding of $3.54 million. FEMA denied $310,667 for 28,742 cubic yards of debris because it determined that the Countys request included reimbursement for ineligible debris as follows: (1) Overcapacity -1,759 cubic yards ($18,997); (2) Ineligible per Pit Monitor 2,453 cubic yards ($26,492); (3) Ineligible per Field Monitor 5,811 cubic yards ($62,759); (4) Other Federal Agencies 5,969 cubic yards ($64,465); (5) Discrepancy in Tickets 283 cubic yards ($3,056); and, (6) # Ineligible 12,468 cubic yards ($134,654). The County appealed this determination in a letter dated November 19, 2001, to the State. In a letter dated December 5, 2001 to FEMA, the State requested technical assistance in evaluating the Countys appeal. By letter dated December 21, 2001, FEMA provided to the State a complete set of data that explained the reasons for reducing the Countys claim. The data included copies the project worksheets, printouts from the debris database that detailed the truck number and ticket number where reductions were taken, debris monitors notes including photographs of areas where ineligible debris was removed and maps of the affected areas. The State forwarded the Countys first appeal to FEMA in a letter dated May 15, 2002. The State supported the appeal and recommended that FEMA approve the disputed funding. In a letter dated July 24, 202, the Regional Director for FEMA Region VI approved $67,522 for an additional 6,252 cubic yards of debris as follows: (1) Other Federal Agencies 5,811 cubic yards ($64,465); and, (2) Discrepancy in Tickets 283 cubic yards ($3,056). The Regional Director denied $242,897 for 22,490 cubic yards of debris.
The County submitted a second appeal to the State in a letter dated September 23, 2002, wherein it requested copies of all documents FEMA used to deny the Countys request for funding and a list of every FEMA representative who worked on the project. The County requested reimbursement of $242,897 for an additional 22,490 cubic yards of debris. The State supported and transmitted the Countys appeal to FEMA in a letter dated October 28, 2002.
FEMA provided copies of the data it used to evaluate the Countys request for reimbursement to the State on December 21, 2001. We will not provide the names, addresses and phone numbers of FEMA representatives who worked in the County, because of the Privacy Act and Exemption 6 of the Freedom of Information Act.
Each area of the Countys appeal is discussed below.
FEMA reduced the Countys claim for reimbursement by 1,759 cubic yards ($18,993) because some trucks were credited with hauling more than their measured capacities. The County claimed that FEMA and County monitors certified that some trucks hauled 110% of their measured capacities and FEMA should honor those determinations. It also claimed that FEMA improperly measured the capacity of truck # 48 by dumping its load on the ground and measuring the volume of debris, and then using this volume for all loads hauled by that truck. Finally, it stated that FEMA made clerical errors in its debris database. For example, the FEMA debris database indicates that truck # 37 hauled debris claimed on ticket number 31403, when truck #36 was responsible for that load ticket. Truck # 36 had a capacity of 37 cubic yards while truck # 37 had a capacity of 17 yards. As a result, the County claimed that FEMA incorrectly reduced the Countys claim by 20 cubic yards. The County implied that the debris database contains other unspecified errors that should be corrected. The State recommended that FEMA reinstate funds for this category because FEMA should have resolved these issues at the end of each workday.
Our records show that some load tickets showed trucks hauling more debris than the measured capacities of the trucks. Vegetative debris has a lot of voids when loaded into trucks, even when workers attempt to compact it. When debris extends beyond the sides of trucks, trucks cannot be credited with hauling more than their measured capacities because of the voids in the loads. For this reason, FEMA will reimburse the County for a maximum load equal to the measured capacity of each truck.
FEMA worked with the County and its contractors to measure the capacity of each truck before it was placed into service. As part of our quality control effort, our monitors randomly re-measured trucks throughout the debris removal operation to determine if the operators made modification to them since the original measurements were taken. Our records show that the situation with truck # 48 was unique. This truck had sideboards when initially measured. Later, when our monitor informed the driver of truck # 48 that he wanted to re-measure the truck, the driver dumped the load on the ground and did not allow our monitor to re-measure the truck. Since it appeared that the truck had been modified since the original measurement, our monitor measured the dumped load and credited each subsequent load with that volume of debris. This was not a routine occurrence.
We reviewed the load tickets and determined that truck # 36 was responsible for load ticket 31403. This results in an additional 20 cubic yards of eligible debris. Therefore, we will adjust the database accordingly.
Ineligible per Pit Monitor
FEMA reduced the Countys claim by 2,453 cubic yards ($26,496) because our monitors at the disposal sites determined that the actual loads that some trucks hauled were less than the volumes claimed on the load ticket. The County claimed that the amounts shown on the load tickets were the amount agreed to by the County and FEMA monitors at the pickup sites. Therefore, no additional deduction should have been taken at the disposal site. The State said that FEMA failed to provide the pit logs to support these de-obligations.
The pit monitors were responsible for verifying that the amount of debris recorded on the
load tickets accurately reflected the amount of debris contained in the trucks. If the pit monitors determined that a load ticket did not accurately reflect the amount of debris in the truck, they recorded the adjusted load in their daily logs. The adjusted amounts were used as the basis for reimbursement.
FEMA provided to the State in a letter dated December 21, 2002, all information it used to make deductions in the Countys request for reimbursement. There is no basis for reimbursing the County for these costs.
Ineligible Per Field Monitors
FEMA denied the Countys request for reimbursement for removal and disposal of 5,811 cubic yards ($62,759) of debris because FEMA field monitors observed and recorded County contractors cutting undamaged trees and removing debris from outside the rights-of-way or from private property. In the second appeal, the County stated that FEMA monitors should have taken a more active role to prevent the removal of ineligible debris.
We have revSttors response to the second appeal, and have determined that the documentation supports the deductions made for this category. Therefore, there is no basis for approving the requested funding for this category of debris.
FEMA put a # in the debris database next to the load tickets that contained ineligible debris. FEMA denied reimbursement for 12,468 cubic yards ($134,654) because the County removed ineligible debris from private property and from neighboring Laflore County. Most of the deductions were for debris removed from Perry Loop Road in District 2 (June 20 June 26, 2001) and Cedar Ridge Road and Brooken Cemetery Road in District 3 (April 18-19, 2001 and May 19-24, 2001). The County argued in the second appeal that FEMA should have taken a more active role to prevent the County from removing ineligible debris. The State asserted that FEMA and County monitors were present at these locations during the debris removal operations and did not indicate that the contractors were removing ineligible debris. Therefore, there was no basis for denying reimbursement. Also, the State suggested that FEMA reimburse Laflore County for the debris removed from that County.
The information that the Regional Director provided to the State on December 21, 2001, included field monitors notes and pictures describing the dates and locations where ineligible debris was removed. FEMA monitors informed the County monitors when they observed ineligible debris being removed. However, in many cases the removal of ineligible debris continued. The County has not submitted any information that supports its claim that the deductions were not appropriate.
The State asserts that Haskell County had an unwritten reciprocal agreement to maintain certain roads that are in remote areas of their respective counties since 1991. Therefore, FEMA should reimburse Haskell County. Alternatively, FEMA should reimburse Laflore County for the debris that Haskell County contractors removed from Laflore County. FEMAs mutual aid policy requires a written agreement before services are rendered to be eligible for reimbursement under the Public Assistance Program. Since the County has not provided a written agreement with Laflore County, or any information that shows it was legally responsible for removing debris from LaFlore County, there is no basis for providing reimbursement. Also, since Laflore County did not incur any cost to remove the debris, it is not eligible for reimbursement.
There is no basis to reverse the Regional Directors decision on the first appeal. Therefore, the appeal is denied.