|Applicant||City of Fort Pierce|
|PW ID#||Multiple Project Worksheets|
Cross Debris Removal; Private Property
(2) Did the Applicant demonstrate that the debris on private roads presented a health and safety threat to the public?
Mr. W. Craig Fugate
Florida Department of Community Affairs
Division of Emergency Management
2555 Shumard Oak Boulevard
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2100
Re: Second Appeal - City of Fort Pierce, PA ID 111-24300-00
Debris Removal, FEMA-1545/1561-DR-FL, Multiple Project Worksheets
Dear Mr. Fugate:
This letter is in response to the referenced second appeal submitted by the City of Fort Pierce (Applicant) on March 29, 2006, transmitted by your letter dated April 4, 2006. The Applicant is appealing the Department of Homeland Securitys Federal Emergency Management Agencys (FEMA) determination to deny costs associated with the removal of debris from private roads.
For reasons explained in the enclosed analysis, I have determined that the Applicants claim of $297,434 for debris removal from private property is eligible for FEMA assistance. Therefore, I approve the appeal. By copy of this letter, I am requesting the Regional Administrator to implement this decision.
Please inform the Applicant of my decision. This determination constitutes the final decision on this matter pursuant to 44 CFR §206.206.
Carlos J. Castillo
Disaster Assistance Directorate
cc: Major Phil May
FEMA Region IV
Appeal Analysisnd PWs 238 and 351 (DR-1561)
Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne struck Florida in September 2004 (FEMA-1545/1561-DR-FL) and caused flooding and wind damage that deposited debris throughout the City of Fort Pierce (Applicant). The Applicant requested assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for incurred costs for city-wide debris removal.
In December 2004, FEMA prepared Project Worksheet (PW) 478 for Hurricane Frances (1545-DR) and PWs 238 and 351 for Hurricane Jeanne (1561-DR) to provide funding for the removal of city-wide storm-generated debris from public roadways and facilities. In all three cases, FEMA reduced the amount of eligible debris removal because the total amount of debris removed by the Applicant included debris removed from private roads. FEMA denied $297,434 in funding associated with the debris removed from private roads.
In a letter dated March 25, 2005, the Applicant appealed FEMAs determination, asserting that the removal of the debris was necessary to protect against immediate threats to public safety, and that it was their legal responsibility to remove the debris. On October 31, 2005, FEMA denied the Applicants first appeal, stating that it appears that the Applicant does have legal responsibility to enter private property and remove structural and vegetative debris causing a nuisance, if a property owner refuses to comply with the Applicants Solid Waste, Junk, and Lot Clearance Ordinance (Ordinance). However, the Applicant did not follow its nuisance abatement procedures, which would have established the Applicants legal responsibility for removal of the disaster-related debris. Further, the Applicant did not demonstrate that the debris located on private property was a threat to the general public.
On March 29, 2006, the Applicant submitted a second appeal of FEMAs denial of costs associated with debris removal from private roads. The Applicant argues that public safety was immediately at risk and that it had the legal responsibility to remove the debris. The Applicant requests that FEMA provide funding in the amount of $297,434 for the removal of debris from the private roads.
Generally, debris removal from private property is not eligible under the Public Assistance Program and is the responsibility of the property owner. Following the 2004 Florida Hurricanes, FEMA issued Disaster-Specific Guidance #8 (DSG #8), Debris Removal from Roadways in Private or Gated Communities, that outlined the procedures necessary to establish eligibility of debris removal from private property. Under DSG #8, Applicants requesting reimbursement for debris removal from private property were required to demonstrate legal responsibility through the implementation of its legal process established by local laws, ordinances, or codes. Further, DSG #8 required applicants to follow the procedure outlined in their law, ordinances or codes.
The Applicant states that the debris was a nuisance that had to be removed, and in a normal situation, the Applicant would have provided the notice and opportunity to cure the nuisance as stated in its ordinance. However, given the magnitude of Frances impact on the City of Fort Pierce and its residents it was reasonable for the City to waive the notice obligation and remove the debris and eliminate the threats to public health and safety.
In accordance with Title 44 of the Code of Federal Regulations (44 CFR) §206.223(a)(3), to be eligible for financial assistance, an item of work must be the legal responsibility of an eligible applicant. The Applicants Ordinance gives the Applicant the legal responsibility to clear debris causing a nuisance from private property should the private property owner not do so. The Ordinance, §16-49 Procedure for removal of nuisance, outlines procedures that the Applicant must follow to legally remove debris from private property. The Applicant also has authority to waive the procedures, as it did following Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne. Therefore, the Applicant met the requirements of DSG #8.
Regarding the question of whether the debris on private roads presented a health and safety threat to the public, the Applicant submitted information to support its claim.
For the reasons discussed above, the Applicants appeal of funding for costs associated with debris removal from private property is approved.