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Direct Result of Disaster, Codes and Standards, Hazard Mitigation, Support Documentation

Appeal Brief Appeal Letter Appeal Analysis

Appeal Brief

DisasterFEMA 4239-
ApplicantCarrollton Utilities
Appeal TypeSecond
PA ID#041-00B7A-00
PW ID#(PW) 83
Date Signed2018-07-16T00:00:00

Conclusion:  Carrollton Utilities (Subrecipient) substantiated the disaster eroded cover exposing its gas pipelines (Facility) but did not submit documentation demonstrating the additional work it completed to replace and lower the undamaged lines further below grade was eligible to restore the Facility.  Additionally, it failed to demonstrate the upgraded repair was required by federal regulation or eligible for hazard mitigation funding.  As such, the second appeal is denied.

 

Summary Paragraph

In July 2015, in Kentucky, disaster-generated floodwaters eroded fill cover, exposing sections of the Subrecipient’s gas pipelines (Facility) located beneath Canip Creek.  In Project Worksheet (PW) 83, FEMA documented the Subrecipient’s claim for $24,062.00, proposing to use directional boring to replace and lower its 4-inch steel gas pipe (200 feet) and 2-inch plastic gas pipe (300 feet) further below the creek bed.  FEMA later explained in a Determination Memorandum, that pipeline replacement was ineligible work because the lines were not damaged by the disaster.  Though the disaster damaged the pipelines’ covering, because the estimate for replacing fill cost less than the eligible project threshold, FEMA found that none of the work was eligible and reduced the PW to zero dollars.  The Subrecipient appealed the determination, asserting the loss of cover exposed the plastic line and partially exposed the steel line, and in earlier 2015 inspections both lines were covered.  Although feasible as a repair option, it questioned whether replacing the cover could withstand subsequent erosion should another storm occur.  It preferred installing new lines with directional bore further below ground as the safest, most-expedient option because it minimized ground disturbance and covered the lines with undisturbed soil.  In a Final Request for Information (Final RFI), FEMA Region IV concluded the record did not support replacing the lines.  The Final RFI requested the Subrecipient to: describe the disaster-damage in detail; quantify the area of erosion; provide the scope of work (SOW) and costs necessary to replace the cover; provide a benefit-cost analysis demonstrating that gas pipeline replacement beyond the existing depth was cost-effective mitigation pursuant to FEMA RP 9526.1; and provide any other documentation believed relevant to support its position.  In response, the Subrecipient: reiterated the lines were exposed due to erosion; provided the SOW to repair in kind, 1,400 cubic feet (CF) of fill for $6,430.00; and argued that replacing and lowering the lines 4 feet further below the surface provided better, cost-effective protection below the washout zone and met requirements for pipeline construction.  It also provided a 5-page partial excerpt of various federal provisions, but did not address them specifically.  In a first appeal decision, the Regional Administrator (RA) partially granted $6,430.00 to restore the eroded cover, but denied work and costs related to replacing/lowering the undamaged lines.  Because a benefit-cost analysis was not submitted and the proposed mitigation exceeded the eligible total cost, the RA determined the additional work was not cost-effective.  In a second appeal, the Subrecipient: renews its request for the full cost of its replacement project, contending the total is eligible; argues that repairing only the cover fails to meet required Federal provisions regulated by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration; argues it must take all practicable steps to protect the lines or mains from unstable soil and other hazards, contending, due to the disaster, that more than the regulatory minimum of 36 inches of cover is required; and contends the work completed to replace and lower the lines is eligible hazard mitigation, asserting it is cost-effective because the total of all the work does not exceed 100 percent of costs.  

 

Authorities and Second Appeals

  • Stafford Act § 406.
  • 44 C.F.R. §§ 206.223(a)(1), 206.206(a), 206.226.
  • PA Guide, at 29, 33-34, 83, 101, 125-126.
  • RP 9526.1, Hazard Mitigation Funding under Section 406 (Stafford Act), at 2-3.  
  • Stutsman Cty., FEMA-1981-DR-ND, at 4-5; Dep’t of Transp., FEMA-4068-DR-FL, at 5; St. Tammany Parish School Bd., FEMA-1603-DR-LA, at 5-6.

 

Headnotes

  • Stafford Act § 406 and implementing regulations authorize funding to restore a damaged facility to its predisaster design and function.  FEMA will fund reasonable upgrades required by code that apply to the type of repair or restoration required, and meet criteria pursuant to 44 C.F.R. § 206.226(d).  The burden is on the applicant to provide documented justification to substantiate claims made on appeal.
    • The Subrecipient does not demonstrate that work beyond replacing the cover to address the eligible damage, is necessary to restore the Facility.
    • Many of the cited provisions do not apply to the type of restoration required nor would FEMA find the application reasonable based on the record.  None of the provisions require the additional work.  Further, there is no evidence supporting that replacing the cover per regulations would fail, be technically-infeasible or unsafe, or otherwise impair the Facility’s serviceability or functionality. 
  • Stafford Act Section 406 hazard mitigation funding must be applied to eligible disaster-damaged elements and found cost-effective.
    • The Subrecipient fails to substantiate with documentation that replacing/lowering the undamaged lines bears a direct relationship to the loss of pipeline cover.  It declined to submit a benefit-cost analysis, which is required to substantiate cost-effective mitigation.

 

Appeal Letter

Mr. Michael E. Dossett

Director

Kentucky Emergency Management

100 Minuteman Parkway

Frankfort, KY 40601-6168

 

Re:  Second Appeal – Carrollton Utilities, PA ID 041-00B7A-00, FEMA‑4239-DR-KY, Project Worksheet (PW) 83 – Direct Result of Disaster, Codes and Standards, Hazard Mitigation, Support Documentation

 

Dear Mr. Dossett:

 

This is in response to a letter from your office dated April 21, 2018, which transmitted the referenced second appeal on behalf of Carrollton Utilities (Subrecipient).  The Subrecipient is appealing the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) denial of $17,632.00 for costs associated with replacing and lowering sections of gas pipelines that were uncovered due to the erosion of fill material (Facility).

 

As explained in the enclosed analysis, I have determined that the Subrecipient did not demonstrate the additional work to replace and lower the undamaged lines was necessary to restore the Facility’s predisaster design and function.  Additionally, it failed to demonstrate the upgraded repair was required by federal regulation, or eligible for hazard mitigation funding pursuant to FEMA Recovery Policy RP 9526.1, Hazard Mitigation Funding under Section 406 (Stafford Act).  Accordingly, I am denying the appeal. 

 

Please inform the Subrecipient of my decision.  This determination is the final decision on this matter pursuant to 44 C.F.R. § 206.206, Appeals.

 

 

Sincerely,

                                                                               /S/

 

Jonathan Hoyes

Director

Public Assistance Division

 

 

Enclosure

 

 

cc: Gracia B. Szczech

      Regional Administrator

Appeal Analysis

Background

 

From July 11 through 20, 2015, severe storms and flooding occurring throughout Trimble County, Kentucky, impacted Canip Creek and nearby areas where Carrollton Utilities’ (Subrecipient) natural gas system is located.  Disaster-generated floodwaters eroded cover material and exposed sections of the Subrecipient’s gas pipelines (Facility) located beneath the creek.  In Project Worksheet (PW) 83 (Category F), FEMA documented the Subrecipient’s claim for $24,062.00, proposing to use directional boring to replace and lower its 4-inch steel gas pipe (200 feet) and 2-inch polyethylene gas pipe (300 feet) further below the creek bed.[1]  In a subsequent Public Assistance (PA) Determination Memorandum dated November 10, 2015, FEMA explained that work to replace the gas lines was ineligible because the lines were not damaged as a direct result of the disaster.[2]  While the disaster clearly damaged the pipelines’ covering, because the estimate for replacing fill cost less than the required minimum for an eligible project,[3] FEMA ultimately determined that none of the work was eligible.[4]  Accordingly, the PW was reduced to zero dollars.

 

First Appeal

 

The Subrecipient appealed FEMA’s ineligibility determination in a letter dated February 27, 2017, requesting FEMA reconsider its decision to deny $24,062.00 in funding.[5]  The Subrecipient asserted flooding from the disaster eroded several feet of material, completely exposing the plastic gas line and leaving only minimal cover atop the steel line.  On two separate inspections performed prior to the disaster in 2015, it asserted the same area of pipeline was observed with no visible exposure.[6]  Once informed of the disaster damage, the Subrecipient applied Rock Shield, a product designed to protect exposed lines, and began actively planning its permanent repair project. 

 

It shared its assessment of four possible repair options.  First, it dismissed as infeasible, abandoning the lines in place because the steel gas line supplies all natural gas to the City of Milton and area nearby.  Second, while feasible, relocating the lines would have required consultations with various state and federal agencies to obtain permits for the work, taken more time, and thereby increased the potential of leaks occurring on the exposed lines.  Third, though replacing the pipeline cover would have taken the least amount of time, the Subrecipient questioned whether new fill could withstand subsequent erosion in the next storm cycle.  It stated it preferred the fourth option of replacing and installing the lines by directional bore because this method proved successful in past experience when replacing and constructing new pipelines, minimized additional disturbance in the area, allowed pipelines to be covered with undisturbed soil, and permitted deeper installation than typically possible with traditional construction equipment.  It also selected the fourth option because using a directional bore to replace the lines was believed to be the most expedient and safest choice.[7]  In a forwarding letter dated April 13, 2017, the Kentucky Emergency Management (Recipient) concurred, explaining the exposed pipelines posed a health and safety risk to the public warranting quick action.  The Recipient stated, of the repair options considered, the Subrecipient chose the safest, most cost-effective measure that would reduce the risk of future damage.[8]

 

After its initial review, FEMA Region IV concluded the record lacked evidence supporting the request for PA funding to replace exposed gas pipelines.  Through a Final Request for Information (Final RFI) dated October 19, 2017, FEMA first requested documentation demonstrating the Subrecipient timely-submitted the appeal.  Second, FEMA instructed the Subrecipient to describe the disaster damage in detail, quantify the area of eroded material, and identify all items of work and costs necessary for replacing the eroded fill cover.  Third, FEMA requested an analysis substantiating that gas line replacement is a cost-effective mitigation measure, using an acceptable benefit/cost analysis methodology in accordance with FEMA Recovery Policy RP 9526.1, Hazard Mitigation Funding under Section 406 (Stafford Act).  The Final RFI also solicited any other information believed relevant to support the appeal.[9]

 

In response, the Recipient forwarded additional documentation for FEMA’s review,[10] including email correspondence exchanged with the Subrecipient, to establish that the Subrecipient did not receive the Determination Memorandum until January 5, 2017.[11]  In its Final RFI response letter dated November 3, 2017, the Subrecipient reiterated that the disaster washed away cover material, claiming the washout left the plastic pipe exposed entirely and partially exposed the top of the steel gas pipeline.[12]  In total, it estimated the disaster eroded 1,400 cubic feet (cf) of cover and provided the approximate dimensions of the damaged area (20 feet long by 20 feet wide by 36 to 42 inches deep).[13]  It calculated $6,430.00 to replace the pipeline cover in kind and itemized the work required, including labor, equipment, and materials.[14]  

 

The Subrecipient restated the four repair options that were considered, reiterating its concern that quickly replacing the pipeline cover with 36 inches of fill, the minimum required by regulations, may be vulnerable to future erosion in another disaster.[15]  Conversely, it argued that lowering the gas lines four feet further below their existing elevation using directional boring was the most cost-effective mitigation measure because the lines would be buried in undisturbed soil.[16]  It added, since the gas lines would be buried to a final depth of seven feet below the ground, performing the work with open-cut construction would require shoring and cost more than directional boring.[17]  In addition, the Subrecipient asserted that lowering the lines with directional bore met all of the applicable regulations for pipeline construction.[18] 

 

Neither the Recipient nor the Subrecipient submitted a benefit/cost analysis to support the cost-effectiveness of replacing the gas lines as a hazard mitigation measure.

 

On January 23, 2018, the FEMA Region IV Regional Administrator (RA) partially granted the appeal.  The RA agreed the first appeal was timely-filed.  Based on the information provided, the RA concluded though the disaster eroded pipeline fill, it did not damage the gas lines.[19]  The RA determined further that eligible work consisted of reconstituting the cover and excluded work to replace and lower the undamaged gas lines.  Accordingly, because the RA validated the reasonableness of the Subrecipient’s estimate for fill replacement and the cost exceeded the minimum amount required for project funding, the appeal was partially granted for $6,430.00.  The RA also explained that Section 406 hazard mitigation funding must be applied to the parts of the facility that were actually damaged by the disaster and must be cost-effective.  Therefore, since the disaster did not damage the gas lines, the cost claimed to replace the lines exceeded the amount partially granted for fill replacement, and the Subrecipient did not submit a suitable benefit/cost analysis, the RA determined that replacing the lines was not an eligible hazard mitigation measure.

 

Second Appeal

 

In a second appeal for $17,632.00 dated March 28, 2018, the Subrecipient maintains that all of the work is eligible for PA funding.  In challenging the decision to deny mitigation funding, the Subrecipient indicates that overall cost effectiveness for the work as potential hazard mitigation should be assessed for the project in its entirety.  It counters that the actual cost for all of the work performed in response to the disaster ($24,062.00), not simply the cost to replace the pipeline’s cover ($6,430.00), is cost effective pursuant to policy because it does not exceed 100 percent of the costs.  The Subrecipient asserts hazard mitigation funding should otherwise be provided because the work to install the pipelines at greater depth is reasonable and appropriate mitigation of disaster damage, prevents future similar damage, is directly related to eligible damaged elements, and meets eligibility requirements in accordance with the policy.

 

The Subrecipient explains that operation and maintenance of its natural gas system is federally regulated by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), contending the work performed in its entirety meets guidelines under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act) and complies with PHMSA regulations.  Moreover, the Subrecipient argues that reestablishing minimum cover over the existing pipelines does not meet PHMSA requirements.  To support this argument, it references provisions within the regulations, excerpts of which were provided with its first appeal. 

 

First, it argues that covering the pipelines in place fails to meet Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) § 192.143(a)’s general design requirement that, prior to being put into service, each pipeline component must withstand operating pressures and other anticipated loadings without impairment of serviceability.[20]  Second, it contends that simply replacing the pipeline’s cover is “not practical,” and does not meet § 192.317(a)’s provision requiring it to take all practicable steps to protect the lines from washouts or other hazards that may cause the pipeline to move or sustain abnormal loads.[21]  Third, due to circumstance triggered by the disaster, it argues that meeting the regulatory minimum of providing 36 inches of cover over the existing lines pursuant to § 192.327(a) prevents full compliance with its obligation to protect the lines from hazards in accordance with § 192.317(a).[22]  Fourth, as a result of the washout, it indicates that covering the lines in the same location would increase the patrol rate for the area pursuant to § 192.721, which provides that the frequency of patrolling mains must be determined by the severity of the conditions which could cause failure or leakage, and the consequent hazards to public safety.  Specifically citing § 192.721(b)(2), if it were to rebury the lines in place, it argues the provision calls for patrolling the washout area twice per year instead of once every five years, the interval of patrol it asserts is required for the pipeline system overall.[23] 

 

The Recipient forwarded the appeal together with its statement of concurrence dated April 21, 2018.  The Recipient reiterates the Subrecipient selected the safest, most cost-effective measure that would reduce the risk of similar damage repeating in the next storm.[24]

 

Discussion

 

Direct Result of Disaster

 

Pursuant to Section 406 of the Stafford Act, as implemented by 44 C.F.R. Section 206.226, FEMA may reimburse eligible subrecipients for the repair, restoration, reconstruction or replacement of a public facility damaged or destroyed by a major disaster on the basis of the facility’s design as it existed immediately prior to the disaster and in accordance with other provisions.[25]  However, it is the subrecipient’s burden to demonstrate that damage is disaster-related[26] and that all requested work items are required as a direct result of the disaster, and therefore eligible for PA funding.[27] 

 

Here, the Subrecipient still has not demonstrated the gas lines were damaged by the disaster. Throughout the appeal process, the Subrecipient maintains that flooding from the disaster washed out several feet of material and uncovered the gas lines, exposing the plastic gas line and partially exposing the steel line.  It did not identify any damage to the actual gas lines under the washout area, nor did it offer documentation such as pictures, inspections, or other reports to demonstrate the disaster caused a greater extent of surface or subsurface damage.  During the second appeal process, FEMA reviewed pictures included on PW 83’s photo sheet, which, when viewed with appeal statements and all other information comprising the administrative record, further substantiates that the extent of visible damage consisted of displaced earthen fill and rock.  The exposed sections of both lines as shown, appear intact.  Without evidence to the contrary, therefore, the RA’s first appeal conclusion was correct. 

 

Likewise, the Subrecipient has not demonstrated that any of the work to replace and lower the lines was required as a direct result of the disaster.  None of the Subrecipient’s documentation indicates any of the work in dispute was required to restore the lines as designed and as they existed prior to the disaster.  Rather, the Subrecipient and Recipient state that replacing the lines further below grade would be the safest, most cost-effective choice to protect the lines from future flood damage.  The scope of eligible permanent work is what is necessary to repair the disaster damage only, and must correspond directly to the cause of damage.[28]  Therefore, based on the information provided, the eligible work as determined by the RA, is appropriate.
Codes and Standards / Support Documentation

 

Under 44 C.F.R. § 206.226(d), costs related to work that changes the predisaster construction of a facility may be eligible for PA funding if the codes or standards: (1) apply to the type of repair or restoration required; (2) are appropriate to the predisaster use of the facility; (3) are found reasonable, in writing, and formally adopted and implemented by the state or local government on or before the disaster declaration date or be a legal federal requirement applicable to the restoration; (4) apply uniformly to all similar types of facilities within the jurisdiction of the owner of the facility; and (5) were enforced during the time the standards were in effect.[29]  In addition to meeting all five criteria, in order for FEMA to fund upgrades required by codes and standards, the upgrade work must also be required as a direct result of the disaster.[30]  A subrecipient has the burden on appeal to provide more than statements or opinions to substantiate its claims; documentation or other evidence supporting its position must also be submitted.[31]  

 

Though it seeks increased FEMA funding for work it asserts is necessary to comply with federal requirements, the Subrecipient has not submitted documentation to demonstrate its points.  The Subrecipient submitted an incomplete, five-page excerpt of the regulations with its first appeal but did not address why they were relevant.[32]  Though it briefly discusses the applicability of the regulations in its second appeal, many of its arguments omit the singular issue that because the lines were not damaged by the disaster, many of the cited provisions do not apply to the type of repair or restoration required.[33]  The Subrecipient has not demonstrated a direct relationship between the additional work and the disaster damage.[34] 

 

It argues repairing the cover in kind does not comply with design requirements for pipeline components as prescribed by the regulations.[35]  The scope of this provision addresses operating pressures required for components to protect against accidental overpressuring.[36]  But the Subrecipient does not explain nor show how the pipeline sections or system, once properly restored with sufficient cover, would be unable to maintain pressurization or other anticipating loadings or would otherwise be impaired if put back into service. 

The Subrecipient further argues repairing the lines in place with only the minimum cover for protection is impractical and conflicts with its responsibility as the operator, to take all practicable steps to protect the lines or mains from washouts, unstable soil, and other hazards that may cause movement or cause the lines to sustain abnormal loads.  Yet, it provides no analysis or documentation supporting why replacing the cover as installed prior to the disaster would fail, nor does it provide results of testing to document instability of soil or other vulnerabilities.  Likewise, it has not shown that replacing the cover post-disaster is technically infeasible.  Finally, referencing a maintenance provision, it suggests leaving the lines in place, where movement or external loadings could result in failure or leakage, would require more frequent patrol of the washout area.  But, it provides no documentation nor definitive analysis illustrating why the lines, once repaired and in compliance with minimum standards, would be potentially at risk.

 

As in this scenario, when the damaged facility is repairable, code upgrades are limited to only the damaged elements, unless a reasonable code with a trigger requires upgrades to the other parts of the facility.[37]  None of the provisions specifically cited by the Subrecipient indicate that due to erosion of cover protecting an existing, undamaged line or main, the lines must be replaced or reinstalled at a depth beyond what would be required to maintain minimum cover.[38]  It also has not established that completing the minimum repair under the regulations would render the lines or the system unsafe or otherwise impair Facility serviceability or functionality.  In sum, the Subrecipient has not substantiated the regulations require the additional work.  Even if it had, the work is otherwise ineligible for failing to meet the required criteria pursuant to 44 C.F.R. § 206.226(d).  In this instance, FEMA does not find it persuasive nor reasonable to replace and relocate the undamaged lines below their predisaster depth without evidence to support that replacing the cover would be inadequate to restore the Facility or technically infeasible.[39]       

 

Stafford Act Section 406 Hazard Mitigation / Support Documentation

 

Code upgrades that are ineligible pursuant to code and standard criteria but will otherwise enhance a facility’s ability to withstand similar damage in a future event, may be eligible for Stafford Act Section 406 hazard mitigation and included with repairs.[40]  Such measures consist of work that is above and beyond eligible work required to return the facility to its predisaster design and function.[41]  Mitigation measures under Section 406 must bear a relationship to facility elements damaged by the disaster and be determined cost-effective.[42]  As explained in RP 9526.1, Hazard Mitigation Funding under Section 406 (Stafford Act), cost effectiveness is demonstrated if the mitigation: (1) amounts to no more than 15 percent of the total eligible cost of the eligible repair work; (2) appears on the list of predetermined cost-effective measures and does not exceed the entire cost of the approved eligible repair work for the project; and (3) is proven cost-effective through an acceptable benefit/cost analysis when exceeding the cost of eligible repairs.[43]

 

With its second appeal, the Subrecipient argues the additional work is appropriate to the disaster damage, directly related to the eligible damaged elements, and reasonable in scope and price.  However, the Subrecipient failed to substantiate with supporting documentation that gas line replacement bears a direct relationship to the loss of pipeline cover.  Moreover, though the Subrecipient asserts that using directional boring to perform this work is cost-effective mitigation, it presents only the total cost of its completed project (which includes the cost of the mitigation measure).  Although the Final RFI made clear that the Subrecipient must submit a detailed benefit/cost analysis to demonstrate the work’s cost effectiveness pursuant to FEMA guidance, the Subrecipient declined to do so.   Consequently, the RA correctly determined the work is ineligible for hazard mitigation funding.

 

Conclusion

 

The Subrecipient did not submit documentation demonstrating the additional work completed to replace and lower the undamaged lines was eligible to restore the Facility.  Additionally, it failed to demonstrate the upgraded repair was required by federal regulation or eligible for hazard mitigation funding.  As such, the second appeal is denied.

 

[1] Project Worksheet 83, Carrollton Utils., Version 0 (­­­­­­Nov. 9, 2015).

[2] FEMA Public Assistance Determination Memorandum (Nov. 10, 2015) [hereinafter Determination Memo]. 

[3] Title 44 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) § 206.202(d)(2) (2014) (providing, when the estimate of a project’s work cost less than the annually adjusted minimum, the work is not eligible and will not be approved for a project worksheet).  Small project thresholds for each fiscal year (FY) are based on the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers published by the U.S. Dep’t of Labor.  The small project minimum for FY2015 was $3,040.00.

[4] Determination Memo, at 1.

[5] Letter from Util. Eng’r, Carrollton Utils., to Recovery Branch Mgr., Ky. Emergency Mgmt., at 1-3 (Feb. 27, 2017) [hereinafter Subrecipient’s First Appeal].  The Subrecipient enclosed but did not address within its appeal narrative, partial excerpts of 49 C.F.R. §§ 192.327, 192.615, 192.721, and 192.723 (five pages total).  Various passages of the excerpts were underlined or otherwise marked for emphasis.

[6] Id. at 1.  The Subrecipient does not present reports or other maintenance records establishing the specific dates in 2015.

[7] Id. at 2 (stating “[t]he Carrollton Utilities Commission decided to have the lines replaced with the directional bore option since it was the most expedient and the safest in the long run.”).

[8] Letter from Recovery Branch Mgr., Ky. Emergency Mgmt., to Reg’l Adm’r, FEMA Region IV, at 1 (Apr. 13, 2017).

[9] Letter from Dir., Recovery Div., FEMA Region IV, to Dir., Ky. Emergency Mgmt., & Util. Eng’r, Carrollton Utils., at 1-2 (Oct. 19, 2017).

[10] Email from Recovery Branch Mgr., Ky. Emergency Mgmt., to FEMA Region IV Appeals, & Util. Eng’r, Carrollton Utils., at 1 (Nov. 17, 2017, 15:28 EST).  The Recipient forwarded (5) attachments totaling 17 pages for review.  Attachment (4) contains the Subrecipient’s Final RFI Letter and is cited separately throughout this Analysis.

[11] See id. at Attachment (1) (labeled “official notification of PW 83”).

[12] Letter from Util. Eng’r, Carrollton Utils., to Dir., Recovery Div., FEMA Region IV, at 1-3 (Nov. 3, 2017) [hereinafter Subrecipient’s Final RFI Letter].

[13] To understand the Subrecipient’s estimate, FEMA calculated for cubic feet (cf) as follows: (1) converting inches to feet by dividing by 12 (e.g., 36 in. converts to 3 ft., whereas 42 in. converts to 3.5 ft.); and (2) multiplying length by width by depth.  Using the stated dimensions, 20 x 20 x 3 = 1,200 cf, and 20 x 20 x 3.5 = 1,400 cf.  Therefore, the Subrecipient’s estimate of 1,400 cf of fill corresponds with a depth of 42 inches.

[14] Subrecipient’s Final RFI Letter, at 1-2 (stating, costs and work for the restoration of 1,400 CF of fill included: $2,700.00 for two full days of a three-person crew equipped with a backhoe and other miscellaneous equipment; $180.00 for Rock Shield pipe protector; $350.00 for 2.5 tons of DGA [Dense Graded Aggregate] pipe cover; $2,200.00 for 82 tons of clean earth backfill using a tandem tri-axle dump truck (approximately four truckloads at $550.00 per load); and $1,000.00 for raking, seed, and straw). 

[15] Subrecipient’s Final RFI Letter, at 2 (stating, pursuant to 49 C.F.R. § 192.327, 36 inches of cover is required for pipelines under drainage features).

[16] Id.

[17] Id.  The Subrecipient restated the cost to perform the project with directional bore ($24,062.00) but did not provide an estimate for the work using the open-cut construction method.

[18] Id. (broadly referencing 49 C.F.R. Pt. 192 Subpart G (§§ 192.301-192.328)).

[19] For example, upon completing Final Review of Version 0, PW 83, the reviewer stated “[i]t has been determined that there was no eligible damage to the gas lines, only covering fill was lost. Therefore, there is no reason to directional bore new lines.”  PW 83, Carrollton Utilities (Version 0)­.

[20] Letter from Util. Eng’r, Carrollton Utils., to Dir., Ky. Emergency Mgmt., at 3 (Mar. 28, 2018) [hereinafter Subrecipient’s Second Appeal].

[21] Id.

[22] Id. at 3-4.

[23] 49 C.F.R. § 192.721(b)(2) (providing that mains in places or on structures where anticipated physical movement or external loading could cause failure or leakage must be patrolled, outside business districts, at intervals not exceeding 7.5 months, but at least twice each calendar year). 

[24] Letter from Recovery Branch Mgr., Ky. Emergency Mgmt., to Reg’l Adm’r, FEMA Region IV, at 1 (Apr. 21, 2018).

[25] The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act of 1988, Pub. L. No. 93-288, § 406, 42 U.S.C. § 5172 (2007); Title 44 Code of Federal Regulations (44 C.F.R.) § 206.226 (2014).

[26] Public Assistance Guide, FEMA 322, at 33 (June 2007) [hereinafter PA Guide].

[27] 44 C.F.R. § 206.223(a)(1); PA Guide, at 29.

[28] PA Guide, at 101.

[29] 44 C.F.R. § 206.226(d).

[30] PA Guide, at 29; 44 C.F.R. § 206.223(a)(1).

[31] 44 C.F.R. § 206.206(a); FEMA Second Appeal Analysis, Stutsman Cty., FEMA-1981-DR-ND, at 4-5 (Feb. 6, 2018); FEMA Second Appeal Analysis, Dep’t of Transp., FEMA-4068-DR-FL, at 5 (Aug. 5, 2016) (explaining “the burden to fully substantiate appeals with ‘documented justification’ falls exclusively to the Subrecipient and hinges upon the Subrecipient’s ability to produce not only its own records but to clearly explain how those records should be interpreted as relevant to support the appeal.”).

[32] With the Final RFI, FEMA’s responsibility is to address points on first appeal and provide the applicant with an opportunity to preview FEMA’s reasoning related to a potential denial and respond with clarification and additional documentation.  Here, though the Applicant provided partial excerpts of code provisions with its first appeal, it did not explain why the information was relevant to its position in its appeal narrative.  In a Final RFI, FEMA cannot request further information/seek clarification where an applicant declines to present its own arguments.

[33] 44 C.F.R. § 206.226(d)(1).

[34] Id. § 206.223(a)(1); FEMA Second Appeal Analysis, FEMA-1603-DR-LA, St. Tammany Parish School Board, at 5 (Aug. 1, 2017).

[35] Subrecipient’s Second Appeal, at 3 (referring to 49 C.F.R. § 192.143(a)).

[36] Id.; see also §192.141. 

[37] PA Guide, at 34; 83.

[38] FEMA considered whether replacement and deeper installation of the undamaged lines was warranted pursuant to 49 C.F.R. § 192.317(a)’s protection from hazards requirement in light of prior appeal decisions where FEMA has found this argument to be persuasive.  See, e.g., FEMA Second Appeal Analysis, Clarksville Gas & Water, FEMA-1909-DR-TN, at 1-4 (July 31, 2015) (finding eligible work to restore damaged pipes with directional boring).  However, in Clarksville Gas & Water, key facts and arguments are plainly distinguishable: (1) FEMA initially determined restoring the lines with directional boring was eligible, and was able to review the SOW for environmental and historic preservation compliance; (2) FEMA subsequently reduced funding because the gas mains were not damaged and restoring the lines using open-cut construction was determined to be a more cost-effective repair method; and (3) while the applicant argued similarly that replacing the lost creek bed material to restore minimum cover was inadequate to prevent future flood exposure, it also demonstrated that replacing the lost material in kind would have altered the previous condition of the creek bed and caused a damming effect at the pipeline’s crossing point which was prohibited by state environmental and conservation requirements.  Id. at 3.  Whereas, the Subrecipient here has made no such argument nor has FEMA ever found the work in dispute to be eligible.

[39] 44 C.F.R. § 206.226(d)(3).

[40] Stafford Act § 406(e); 44 C.F.R. § 206.226.

[41] PA Guide, at 125.

[42] Recovery Policy RP 9526.1, Hazard Mitigation Funding under Section 406 (Stafford Act), at 2 (Mar. 30, 2010).

[43] For all three means, the total eligible cost of the project is used for the cost comparison. PA Guide, at 126.

Last updated May 28, 2020