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Debris Removal

Appeal Brief Appeal Letter Appeal Analysis

Appeal Brief

DisasterFEMA-1545/15
ApplicantCity of Fort Pierce
Appeal TypeSecond
PA ID#111-24300-00
PW ID#Multiple Project Worksheets
Date Signed2007-08-27T04:00:00
Citation: FEMA-1545/1561-DR-FL; City of Fort Pierce, Debris Removal

Cross Debris Removal; Private Property
Reference:

Summary: As a result of Hurricane Frances (FEMA-1545-DR-FL) and Hurricane Jeanne (FEMA-1561-DR-FL), the City of Fort Pierce (Applicant) submitted a request for funding for the removal of storm-generated debris from public roadways and facilities within the city. FEMA approved Project Worksheets 478 (1545-DR), 238, and 351 (1561-DR) to cover eligible debris removal costs; however, the Applicant’s claim was reduced by $297,434 for the cost of debris removal from private roads. On March 25, 2005, the Applicant submitted a first appeal, asserting that it had the legal responsibility to remove debris from private property and that the removal of said debris was necessary to protect against immediate threats to public safety. On October 31, 2005, FEMA denied the Applicant’s first appeal, stating that the Applicant had not demonstrated that the debris located on private property was a threat to the general public. In addition, the Applicant did not follow its nuisance abatement procedures, which would have established the Applicant’s legal responsibility for removal of the debris. The Applicant filed a second appeal with FEMA on March 29, 2006. In its appeal, the Applicant argues that public safety was immediately at risk and that it had the legal responsibility to remove the debris.

Issues: (1) Did the Applicant demonstrate it had legal responsibility to remove the debris?
(2) Did the Applicant demonstrate that the debris on private roads presented a health and safety threat to the public?

Findings: (1) Yes.

(2) Yes.

Rationale: 44 CFR §206.223

Appeal Letter

August 17, 2007

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 Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (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 Applicant’s 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.

Sincerely,

/s/

Carlos J. Castillo
Assistant Administrator
Disaster Assistance Directorate

Enclosure

cc: Major Phil May
Regional Administrator
FEMA Region IV

Appeal Analysis

nd PWs 238 and 351 (DR-1561)

BACKGROUND

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.

First Appeal

In a letter dated March 25, 2005, the Applicant appealed FEMA’s 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 Applicant’s 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 Applicant’s Solid Waste, Junk, and Lot Clearance Ordinance (Ordinance). However, the Applicant did not follow its nuisance abatement procedures, which would have established the Applicant’s 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.

Second Appeal

On March 29, 2006, the Applicant submitted a second appeal of FEMA’s 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.

DISCUSSION

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 Applicant’s 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.

CONCLUSION

For the reasons discussed above, the Applicant’s appeal of funding for costs associated with debris removal from private property is approved.
Last updated February 4, 2020