Repair River Bank Erosion

Appeal Brief Appeal Letter Appeal Analysis

Appeal Brief

DisasterFEMA-1044-DR
ApplicantBridgeville Elementary School District
Appeal TypeSecond
PA ID#023-91034
PW ID#49289
Date Signed1997-10-14T04:00:00
Citation: FEMA-1044-DR-CA; Bridgeville Elementary School DistrictDSR 49289 - Repair River Bank Erosion

Cross Reference: Bank erosion, Eligible repairs

Summary: As a result of the winter storms of 1995 (FEMA-1044-DR-CA), the banks of the Van Duzen River adjacent to the Bridgeville Elementary School property sustained damage due to erosion. The north end of the east property line of the school (along the river) has a retaining wall that protects approximately 150 feet of the property boundary from erosion. Damages sustained by the retaining wall include erosion of the soft rock at the base of the wall and minor soil erosion on the top of the lower bench of the wall. The riverbank immediately south of the retaining wall (approximately 300 feet long) also sustained damage from the high velocity river flows. Riprap placed at the south end of the wall was lost due to erosion. An existing chain link fence (200 LF) was also damaged. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) prepared DSR 49289 (Category D) for $486,185. After review, FEMA reduced the amount of eligible funding to zero, stating that there was no facility damage in this disaster and the proposed project seems to only protect and stabilize a "natural" stream bank. The subgrantee's first appeal stated that this project is specifically to protect the existing constructed wall and improved school property. The Regional Director denied the first appeal and stated that the only disaster related damage consisted of damage to 200 LF of fencing and loss of riprap along a 15 LF stretch of stream bank. Supplemental DSR 20332 was prepared and approved for $30,434 to fund the work above. Additional restoration of the stream bank south of the wall was considered ineligible because it is an unimproved "natural" feature. The subgrantee's second appeal noted that the storms caused significant damage to the wall and facilities (improved gravel road and future building site) located south of the wall. The subgrantee modified its original request for $486,185 and requested the approval of DSR 49289 for $299,667.

Issues: 1.) Should FEMA provide funding to protect an existing retaining wall?2.) Are the proposed measures to restore the stream bank south of the wall eligible for funding?

Findings: 1.) Yes. Continued erosion of the stream banks could threaten the integrity of the entire wall and the improved school property adjacent to the stream bank.2.) No. There was no facility damage south of the wall. The proposed scope of work seems to only protect and stabilize a "natural" stream bank.

Rationale: In accordance with Title 44 of the Code of Federal Regulations 206.221(c), natural features are only considered "facilities" if they are improved and maintained.

Appeal Letter


October 14, 1997

Mr. Gilbert Najera
Governor's Authorized Representative
Governor's Office of Emergency Services
74 North Pasadena Avenue, West Annex, 3rd Floor
Pasadena, California 91103

Dear Mr. Najera:

This letter is in response to your January 29, 1997, submittal of the Bridgeville Elementary School District's second appeal of damage survey report (DSR) 49289 under FEMA-1044-DR-CA. The DSR was prepared to cover the expenses involved with repairs to the bank of the Van Duzen River contiguous to the East Side of the school property. Specifically, the applicant is requesting funding to provide protection to an existing 150 feet long retaining wall and to restore 300 feet of "natural" riverbank bordering the school property.

As explained in the attached analysis, I have determined that there was no facility damage south of the existing retaining wall and existing riprap slope protection. The proposed scope of work seems to only protect and stabilize a "natural" stream bank. However, FEMA assistance may be provided to place riprap slope protection at the base of the wall. The placement of riprap at the base of the wall should be consistent with the dimensions and volume estimated under DSR 49289. I have asked the Regional Director to take appropriate action to implement this determination.

Please inform the applicant of my determination. The applicant may submit a third appeal to the Director of FEMA. The appeal must be submitted through your office and the Regional Director within 60 days of receipt of this determination.

Sincerely,



/S/
Lacy E. Suiter
Executive Associate Director
Response and Recovery Directorate

Enclosure

Appeal Analysis



BACKGROUND

The winter storms of 1995 (FEMA-1044-DR-CA) caused erosion along the banks of the Van Duzen River adjacent to the Bridgeville Elementary School property. The school is located on a 4.5-acre site, which contains five school buildings, a playground, and a parking area. The east side of the school property is contiguous to the Van Duzen River and is approximately 30 to
40 feet above the river bed. The east property line is approximately 450 feet long and may be considered as roughly three 150 feet sections. The first section, located along the north (upstream) end of the east property line, has a retaining wall (approximately 150 feet long and
34 feet high) that was constructed using funds from damage survey report (DSR) 54979 under FEMA-979-DR-CA. The wall protects the adjacent property from erosion. Damages sustained by the retaining wall include erosion of the soft rock at the base of the wall and minor soil erosion on the top of the lower bench of the wall. The second section immediately south of the existing wall includes approximately 135 feet of unimproved riverbank and fifteen linear feet (LF) of riprap. The riprap was placed to protect the south end of the wall. This stretch sustained severe damage from the high velocity river flows. The third section is a "natural" riverbank along the south (downstream) end of the east property line. This stretch sustained erosion as a result of over bank flow and groundwater sloughing erosion. The site of a proposed school building is located adjacent to this bank. A six feet high chain-link fence in this area was also damaged.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) prepared DSR 49289 (Category D) for $486,185 to fund permanent restoration of the riverbank contiguous to the school property. The scope of work for the first section included placement of riprap along the base of the existing wall. The scope of work for the second and third sections included excavation and re-grading, backfill and compaction, placement of riprap, and placement of backing material. The work also included replacement of 200 linear feet (LF) of chain-link fencing. After review, FEMA reduced the amount of eligible funding to zero. The reviewer maintained that there was no facility damage in this disaster and that the proposed project seems to only protect and stabilize a "natural" stream bank.

First Appeal

On November 15, 1995, the State of California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES) transmitted the subgrantee's October 4, 1995, letter, appealing the ineligibility determination of DSR 49289. The subgrantee believed the work should be eligible for funding on the basis that additional erosion of the base of the retaining wall and continued erosion of the stream banks could threaten the integrity of the entire wall and adjacent school property. The subgrantee included a cost estimate of $244,280 for repairs to the existing wall and the stream bank immediately south of the wall (sections 1 and 2). They also submitted and a cost estimate for $116,519 to repair the site of the proposed school building (section 3). OES supported the subgrantee's appeal and stated, that this project is specifically to protect the existing constructed wall and improved school property, and, therefore, should be eligible for FEMA funding.

The Regional Director denied the first appeal because the only disaster related damage documented in the DSR consisted of damage to 200 LF of fencing and loss of riprap along a
15 LF stretch of stream bank immediately south of the reinforced earth wall. Supplemental
DSR 20332 was prepared and approved for $30,434 to fund the eligible repairs. The Regional Director noted that the reinforced earth wall was not damaged during the disaster and that nearly all of the work involves restoration or improvement of natural land features.

Second Appeal

On January 29, 1997, OES transmitted the subgrantee's appeal of the denial of the majority of the work identified in DSR 49289. The subgrantee's second appeal stated that the storms caused significant damage to the toe and downstream end of the retaining wall. In addition, the subgrantee noted that an improved gravel road, built to access the wall, was severely damaged during the disaster event. The subgrantee stated that 100 feet of road, which showed no erosion damage prior to the disaster, eroded during the flooding and is no longer a usable facility. The subgrantee included a revised cost estimate, reducing the total requested amount from $486,185 to $299,667. The reduced estimate includes repairs to the existing wall and restoration of the gravel road.

On February 13, 1997, OES transmitted the subgrantee's November 21, 1996, letter, requesting a supplement to restore the southeast corner of the school property (section 3) where a future school building was planned. The subgrantee is requesting a supplement to DSR 20332 for $21,268, in addition to the revised cost estimate submitted in the second appeal under
DSR 49289. DSR 20332 was originally approved for $30,434 to repair 15 LF of riprap and replace 200 LF of fencing.

DISCUSSION

To be eligible for FEMA assistance, emergency protective measures must (1) eliminate or lessen immediate threats to life, public health or safety; or (2) eliminate or lessen immediate threats of significant additional damage to improved public or private property through measures which are cost effective. The existing wall (section 1) protects approximately 150 feet of improved property along the east property line. The costs associated with placing slope protection at the base of the should be eligible for FEMA funding on the basis that continued erosion of the stream banks and damage to the base of the wall could threaten the integrity of the entire wall and adjacent improved school property. The placement of riprap along the base of the wall is specifically designed to protect the integral ground necessary to physically support the existing constructed wall. The placement of riprap should be consistent with the dimensions and volume estimated under DSR 49289.

The majority of work proposed for sections 2 and 3 is for permanent restoration of an unimproved "natural" stream bank. In accordance with Title 44 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 206.221(c), natural features are only considered "facilities" if they are improved and maintained. The only improvement to the stream bank south of the wall is a stretch of 15 LF of riprap slope protection placed to protect the south end of the wall. The 15 LF stretch of riprap, lost as a result of the disaster, was previously determined eligible and approved for replacement under DSR 20332. Therefore, the remaining 285 feet is ineligible for permanent restoration.

In addition to the second appeal, the subgrantee requested additional funding to restore the proposed building site located along the southeast corner of the school property (section 3) near the riverbank. The subgrantee stated that cracks were evident in the fill and threatened the integrity of the school building. A review of the documentation indicates that the only work completed prior to the disaster is re-grading and compaction of the proposed building site. This work does not constitute an improvement to a facility, and, is therefore, ineligible for permanent restoration.

The subgrantee's second appeal stated that an improved gravel road along the riverbank was severely damaged during the disaster event and is no longer a usable facility. Therefore, the subgrantee maintained that since the access road is part of the riverbank, the riverbank is an "improved and maintained" facility that must be repaired. Damages to the gravel access road are first docapreference to or indicate the location of an existing improved access road or any other additional improved facilities south of the wall. By definition, an improved property means a structure, facility, or item of equipment, that was built, constructed, or manufactured. The eroding bench, which may serve as an access to the wall, is an unimproved natural feature, and, therefore, not eligible for funding. Additionally, any damage that is not shown to the inspection team during the initial visit shall be reported in writing to the Regional Director by the grantee within 60 days after the initial site visit.

CONCLUSION

The placement of riprap at the base of the existing wall (section 1) is an eligible emergency protective measure, because it is an effective method to protect the integral ground of the wall and reduces the threat to improved property. The remaining damage consists of "natural" bank erosion and settling of natural land features, which are ineligible for funding.
Last updated February 4, 2020