From August 27 to August 29, 2012, high winds and heavy rains from Hurricane Isaac caused water levels in Lake Okeechobee to rapidly rise, resulting in damage to the Applicant’s Facility. FEMA obligated Project Worksheet (PW) 204 in the amount of $779,360.00 to repair the Facility. In a letter dated March 25, 2014, the Florida Division of Emergency Management (Grantee) approved a time extension through October 18, 2016. On July 8, 2016, the Applicant requested that FEMA grant a 13 month time extension due to the time it took to pursue an insurance claim on the Facility. In a letter dated December 16, 2016, the Grantee supported the Applicant’s request that FEMA grant a time extension through January 31, 2018. On March 29, 2017, FEMA denied the time extension request because the Applicant did not demonstrate that extenuating circumstances beyond its control delayed project completion. The Grantee notified the Applicant of the time extension denial in a letter dated April 7, 2017, and notified the Applicant of its appeal rights. FEMA deobligated all costs from PW 204 on May 12, 2017. On first appeal, the Applicant claimed that its insurance claim delayed its ability to repair the Facility. The Regional Administrator (RA) denied the appeal and determined that the Applicant did not justify its time extension request. On second appeal, the Applicant maintains its prior arguments and claims that it has been unable to capitalize on the full economic potential of Lake Okeechobee and the damaged docks are a health and safety threat.
Authorities and Second Appeals
- 44 C.F.R. § 206.204(c), (d).
- PA Guide, at 139.
- Roseau County Hwy Dept., FEMA-1288-DR-MN, at 8.
- Hancock County Water and Sewer District, FEMA-1604-DR-MS, at 3.
- Omaha Tribe of Nebraska and Iowa, FEMA-1998-DR-IA, at 5.
- 44 C.F.R. § 206.204(c) provides that generally, applicants have 18 months from the date of declaration of the disaster to complete permanent work, however a grantee may extend the deadline by an additional 30 months based on extenuating circumstances or unusual project requirements beyond the control of the applicant.
- 44 C.F.R. § 206.204(d) and the PA Guide require a request for a time extension beyond a grantee’s authority to be submitted to the RA and include a detailed justification for the delay and a projected completion date. While FEMA may grant after-the-fact time extensions, the authority rests with the RA.
- The Applicant’s justification for delaying the performance of an additional insurance review for an uninsured Facility is not compelling, especially when it did not initiate the claim until after the new administration arrived in April 2015, more than two years after the disaster occurred.
- The Applicant argues that it did not have matching funds for the project, but did not explain how this was outside of its control.
FEMA finds the RA properly exercised her discretion in denying the Applicant’s time extension request because it did not show that its insurance claim or a lack of matching funds were an extenuating circumstance outside of its control.