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Removal of Dead Trees

Appeal Brief Appeal Letter

Appeal Brief

DisasterFEMA-1604-DR
ApplicantForrest County
Appeal TypeSecond
PA ID#035-99035-00
PW ID#XXXX
Date Signed2008-10-28T04:00:00
Citation: FEMA-1604-DR-MS, Forrest County, Debris Removal and Emergency Protective Measures

Cross-reference: Debris Removal, Emergency Protective Measures

Summary: Salt water storm surge from Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 inundated many standing trees making them vulnerable to toppling. FEMA approved funding for the removal of “standing dead trees” from public and private property in several counties. However, FEMA denied Forrest County’s (Applicant) request, as well as several other counties, for funding to remove and dispose of the trees because the Applicant failed to demonstrate that the trees posed an immediate threat to lives, homes and other property.

In its first appeal, the Applicant provided a “Standing Dead Tree Assessment,” showing the type of tree (pine or other), estimated numbers, and relative location (private or public property). The Regional Administrator denied the first appeal because the Applicant did not adhere to the appeal procedures prescribed in 44 CFR §206.206. In addition, the Applicant did not provide documentation demonstrating that the standing dead trees constituted an immediate threat to the public health and safety, or improved property and therefore, the Applicant lacked sufficient justification for a time extension to complete debris removal and emergency protective measures more than two years after the declared event.
In its second appeal, the Applicant requests that FEMA evaluate the appeal on merit rather than a procedural issue. Based upon the “Standing Dead Tree Assessment” provided in its first appeal, the Applicant maintains that the standing dead trees pose a threat to motorists beneath them and threaten to block evacuation routes. The Applicant asserts that the same threat exists in Forrest County as in the other counties where FEMA approved funding for the removal of standing dead trees. Finally, the Applicant claims that the standing dead trees represent a latent impact of the disaster not identifiable in the immediate aftermath of the disaster that justifies the need for a time extension.

Issues: Is the removal and disposal of standing dead trees in Forrest County eligible for reimbursement?

Findings: No.

Rationale: 44 CFR §206.224; 44 CFR §206.206

Appeal Letter

October 28,2008

Thomas M. Womack
Executive Director
Governor’s Authorized Representative
Mississippi Emergency Management Agency
P.O. Box 5644
Pearl, MS 39208

Re: Second Appeal–Forrest County, PA ID 035-99035-00,
Removal of Dead Trees, FEMA-1604-DR-MS

Dear Mr. Womack:

This is in response to your letter dated March 6, 2008, which transmitted the referenced second appeal on behalf of Forrest County (Applicant). The Applicant is appealing the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) denial of eligibility for the removal of “standing dead trees” on public and private property.

Salt water storm surge from Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 inundated many standing trees making them vulnerable to toppling and posing an immediate threat to lives, homes and other property, or limiting access to emergency vehicles. FEMA approved funding for the removal of standing dead trees from public and private property in several counties. However, FEMA denied the Applicant’s request, as well as requests from several other counties, for funding to remove and dispose of the standing dead trees because the Applicant failed to demonstrate that the trees posed an immediate threat. FEMA did not prepare a project worksheet for these costs, and the Applicant has not provided a cost estimate for removal and disposal of the trees.

In a letter dated June 6, 2007, the Applicant submitted its first appeal. The Applicant’s “Standing Dead Tree Assessment” reported 1,200 standing dead trees and projected another 2,370 to die. In a letter dated November 27, 2007, the Regional Administrator denied the first appeal because the Grantee and Applicant submitted the first appeal beyond the deadlines prescribed in 44 CFR §206.206(c)(1) and the Grantee made no written recommendation as required in 44 CFR §206.206(c)(2). In addition, the Applicant did not provide documentation demonstrating that the standing dead trees constituted an immediate threat to the public health and safety, or improved property.
In a letter dated January 4, 2008, the Applicant submitted its second appeal. The Applicant states that it was unaware of the timeline for submitting appeals, and requests that FEMA evaluate the appeal on its merits rather than a procedural issue. Based upon the “Standing Dead Tree Assessment” provided in its first appeal, the Applicant maintains that the standing dead trees pose a threat to motorists beneath them and threaten to block evacuation routes. The Applicant asserts that the threat to the public that exists in Forrest County with standing dead trees is the same threat that exists in the other counties where FEMA approved funding. Finally, the Applicant claims that the standing dead trees represent a latent impact of the disaster not identifiable in the immediate aftermath of the disaster that justifies the need for a time extension.

FEMA provides Public Assistance funding for work required as a direct result of the disaster event. FEMA approved funding for the removal of standing dead trees from public and private property where the standing dead trees posed an immediate threat to life, public health and safety. In those storm surge areas, salt water from the Gulf of Mexico inundated the trees. The Applicant has not demonstrated that the standing dead trees directly result from Hurricane Katrina. Non-hurricane related factors could result in dead or dying trees. Furthermore, the Applicant has not demonstrated that removal of the standing dead trees will eliminate an immediate threat to lives, public health and safety or immediate threats of significant damage to improved public and private property. The Applicant has not identified public or private property threatened by the standing dead trees; described any actions to eliminate an immediate threat; or specified any costs incurred to remove and dispose of the standing dead trees.
I have reviewed the information submitted with the appeal and have determined that the Regional Administrator’s decision in the first appeal is consistent with Public Assistance regulations and policy. Accordingly, I am denying the second appeal.
Please inform the Applicant of my decision. My determination constitutes the final decision on this matter as set forth in 44 CFR §206.206.

Sincerely,
/s/
Carlos J. Castillo
Assistant Administrator
Disaster Assistance Directorate

cc: Major P. May
Regional Administrator
FEMA Region IV
Last updated February 4, 2020