From March 14 to March 15, 2017, Winter Storm Stella caused extensive damage throughout New York State, including Tioga County (Applicant). On July 12, 2017, the President declared a major disaster. Originally, the deadline for submitting a Request for Public Assistance (RPA) to FEMA was August 11, 2017, but FEMA approved a time extension for all applicants to August 26, 2017. On October 10, 2017, the Applicant submitted its RPA to the New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (Recipient). The Recipient forwarded the RPA to FEMA the following day. FEMA denied the RPA, finding that the Applicant submitted the RPA outside the deadline and had provided no extenuating circumstance that would have excused the delay. The Applicant submitted its first appeal on December 19, 2017, arguing that no one notified the Applicant of RPA submission requirements, and that this may have resulted from the retirement of a long-term emergency management employee. The Recipient supported the appeal and forwarded it to FEMA via letter dated December 20, 2017. FEMA denied the appeal on November 6, 2017, finding that the Applicant had not presented an extenuating circumstance that would excuse the delay. In its second appeal, the Applicant argues that neither the Recipient nor FEMA contacted the Applicant to notify it about submission deadlines. The Recipient forwarded the Applicant’s second appeal by letter dated June 1, 2018, recommending the appeal.
Authorities and Second Appeals
- 44 C.F.R. §§ 206.202(b), 206.202(c), 206.202(f)(2)
- Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide FP-104-009-2, at 124 (Jan. 1, 2016)
- FEMA Second Appeal Analysis, Milford Redev. and Hous. P’ship, FEMA-4087-DR-CT, at 3 (Dec. 4, 2013)
- 44 C.F.R. § 206.202(c) provides that recipients must submit applicant RPAs to FEMA within 30 days after designation of disaster areas. Under 44 C.F.R. § 206.202(f)(2), FEMA may extend that deadline if the recipient demonstrates, in writing, justification for a delay based on extenuating circumstances beyond the recipient’s or applicant’s control.
- Here, neither the Recipient nor the Applicant has demonstrated that the retirement of a long-term employee was an extenuating circumstance outside of the Recipient’s or Applicant’s control.
- 44 C.F.R. 206.202(b) tasks recipients with ensuring that applicants are aware of all available public assistance and requirements for submitting documentation for grant awards, and the Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide states that FEMA expects that recipients will collect RPAs as soon as possible after the area designation or after the applicant briefing.
- Although the Applicant contends that no one from FEMA informed it about the submission deadline and corresponding requirements, the responsibility to keep the Applicant informed of PA deadlines and documentation lies with the Recipient.
Neither the Applicant nor the Recipient have demonstrated that an extenuating circumstance, beyond either the Recipient’s or the Applicant’s control, would have excused the delayed RPA submission. Therefore, the Applicant’s second appeal is denied.