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Second Appeal Letter
PA ID# xxx-xxxxx-xx; Church Homes, Inc. Congregational (Avery Heights) Hartford, CT
PW ID# N/A; Request for Public Assistance
August 24, 2012
William J. Hackett
Division of Emergency Management & Homeland Security
Department of Emergency Services & Public Protection
25 Sigourney Street, 6th floor
Hartford, CT 06106
Re: Second Appeal – Church Homes, Inc. Congregational (Avery Heights), Denial of Request for Public Assistance (RPA), FEMA-4046-DR-CT
Dear Mr. Hackett:
This letter is in response to a letter from your office dated May 2, 2012, which transmitted the referenced second appeal on behalf of the Church Homes, Inc. Congregational (Avery Heights). Avery Heights is appealing the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) decision to deny its request for an extension of time limits for submitting a Request for Public Assistance (RPA).
On November 17, 2011, the President declared major disaster FEMA-4046-DR-CT for the State of Connecticut as the result of a severe storm occurring October 29-30, 2011. Under FEMA regulations (44 CFR §206.202(c), Request for Public Assistance), RPAs must be submitted within 30 days after the designation of an area for Federal disaster assistance. The regulatory deadline for submitting RPAs for the disaster in Connecticut was December 17, 2011. On January 18, 2012, Avery Heights submitted its RPA to theConnecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (State), 32 days after the regulatory deadline. Avery Heights stated it was late in submitting the RPA because it did not receive notification of the due date from the State. In addition, it expected that insurance would cover its costs for debris removal and generator repair, but later learned its policy did not provide coverage for these expenses. The State submitted the RPA to FEMA on January 30, 2012, requesting an extension to the deadline for submitting RPAs. On February 3, 2012, the Federal Coordinating Officer denied the State’s request and did not accept the RPA, because the evidence did not show extenuating circumstances beyond the State’s or Avery Heights’s control as required by 44 CFR §206.202(c) Time Limitations.
Avery Heights submitted a first appeal on March 15, 2012, stating that it believed its insurance policy would cover the disaster related expenses, that it received notice from the insurance company that the expenses were “non-coverable” on January 16, 2012, and requesting FEMA to reconsider the denial of the RPA. In a letter dated March 22, 2012, the State supported the appeal asserting that Avery Heights demonstrated extenuating circumstances. On April 3, 2012, the Regional Administrator denied Avery Heights’ RPA because it was not submitted within the regulatory timeframe and further that Avery Heights did not provide “sufficient justification” that there were extenuating circumstances beyond its control. The Regional Administrator noted that Avery Heights chose not to apply for Public Assistance because it fully expected to receive insurance compensation. This was a decision fully within Avery Heights’s control. The Regional Administrator also noted that the State had not informed FEMA whether or not it notified Avery Heights of the RPA submission deadline.
In the second appeal dated April 23, 2012, Avery Heights asserts that in addition to the belief that its insurance policy would cover the expenses, it did not receive notification of the RPA submission deadline until January 6, 2012. Avery Heights believes the delayed notification constitutes extenuating circumstances, and requests FEMA reconsider its decision. The State’s letter transmitting the second appeal dated May 2, 2012 asserts the position that Avery Heights has demonstrated extenuating circumstances, and cited Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act Section 101(a)(2), (42 U.S.C. § 5121(a)(2)) Congressional Findings and Declarations as a justification for extending the deadline for submission. The State argues that this Section of the Stafford Act describes the intent to provide Federal assistance and that this assistance should not be denied to an otherwise eligible applicant based solely on a technicality.
FEMA regulations (44 CFR §206.202(f)(2), Time limitations) allow the Regional Administrator to extend the RPA submission deadline when there are extenuating circumstances beyond the State or applicant’s control. Avery Heights’s appeal states that it was not informed of the December 17, 2012, RPA deadline or the scheduled Applicants briefing until January 6, 2012. While the documentation does indicate a breakdown in communication between the State and Avery Heights, it does not constitute circumstances beyond either entity’s control. Prior to the submission deadline, FEMA and the State issued multiple public notices advising potential applicants to submit their RPAs. In addition, the expectation of insurance coverage does not constitute extenuating circumstances. The potential availability of insurance proceeds did not interfere with Avery Heights’s ability to submit an RPA.
I have reviewed the information submitted with the appeal and have determined that the Regional Administrator’s decision in the first appeal is consistent with Public Assistance regulations and policy. Accordingly, I am denying the second appeal.
Please inform Avery Heights of my decision. My determination constitutes the final decision on this matter as set forth in 44 CFR §206.206, Appeals.
cc: Don R. Boyce
FEMA Region I