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Second Appeal Brief
PA ID# 011-14400-00; City of Coral Springs
PW ID# 3027; Debris Removal - Vegetative
Conclusion: The Applicant has demonstrated the unique hazards posed by standing Australian Pine Trees at Tract K and the South Tract. FEMA finds the removal of standing trees and debris to be eligible.
On October 24, 2005, heavy rains and winds from Hurricane Wilma downed and damaged trees at Butler Farms Tract K (Tract K) and Butler Farms South (South Tract) in the City of Coral Springs. FEMA drafted PW 3027 Version 0 finding removal of 50 percent of the trees at Tract K and 41 percent of the trees at the South Tract ineligible. At closeout, FEMA prepared PW Version 6, which stated that all debris costs, including standing tree removal costs, were eligible. In Audit Report DA-12-15, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) found $187,699.00 in debris removal costs on PW 3027 ineligible. The OIG determined that FEMA did not apply the 50 percent and 41 percent reduction in costs as stated in PW Version 0 and that FEMA also funded $78,000.00 in standing tree removal costs in error. FEMA prepared PW Version 7 and deobligated $187,699.00 from PW 3027 per the OIG’s recommendations. In a first appeal letter, the Applicant appealed $187,699.00 in debris removal costs, arguing that removal of all trees in Tract K and the South Tract were eligible because FEMA’s closeout team found them eligible. The Applicant explained that the debris removal contractors were concerned about the hazards posed by the standing trees during the removal operations, necessitating the need for removal to create pathways for the heavy machinery. The Region IV Regional Administrator (RA) denied the first appeal, agreeing with the OIG that FEMA’s initial site inspection determined that removal of 50 percent of the trees at Tract K and 41 percent of the trees at the South Tract were not eligible for FEMA funding and that standing tree removal was not eligible. The Applicant submitted a second appeal in the amount of $187,699.00. The Applicant reiterated its claim that removal of standing trees was required to protect personnel and to create pathways for the heavy machinery needed for the work on the narrow section of land and that FEMA approved the work in PW Version 6.
Authorities and Second Appeals
- 44 C.F.R. § 206.224(a).
- PA Guide, at 45.
- PA Debris Management Guide, at 7.
- 44 C.F.R. § 206.224(a) provides for the removal of debris from public property when it is necessary to eliminate immediate threats to life, public health, and safety, or significant damage to improved public or private property. The PA Guide states that eligible debris removal activities include the clearance of trees and woody debris.
- Australian Pines have a shallow root ball approximately 12 feet across. The trees were growing about seven feet apart, which resulted in the intertwining of roots from both standing and fallen trees. Consequently, attempting to remove only the fallen trees resulted in an immediate threat to life and safety for the contractor and its equipment, and an immediate threat to nearby public and private property.
- The PA Debris Management Guide states that generally, stump removal is not considered eligible for reimbursement, except where the stump itself is determined to be a hazard, as when the tree has been uprooted.
- When Australian Pines are downed by wind, the trees fall over and pull the root ball out of the ground. The removal of stumps was required due to the overlapping shallow root systems of the Australian Pines being uprooted, causing a hazard as fallen trees were removed.