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Request for Public Assistance, Time Limitations/Extensions

Appeal Brief Appeal Letter Appeal Analysis

Appeal Brief

Disaster4424
ApplicantJackson County Water Company, Inc.
Appeal TypeSecond
PA ID#RPA
PW ID#RPA
Date Signed2021-07-12T16:00:00

Summary Paragraph

From February 5 - 13, 2019, severe storms, flooding, and landslides caused damage in Ohio.  The President declared a major disaster on April 8, 2019, requiring applicants to submit RPAs within 30 days, or not later than May 8, 2019.  The Jackson County Water Company, Inc. (Applicant) submitted an incomplete RPA to the Ohio Emergency Management Agency (Grantee) on April 22, 2019, but the Grantee did not submit the completed RPA to FEMA until six months after the deadline on November 8, 2019.  FEMA denied the Applicant’s request because it did not submit a completed RPA to FEMA’s grants management database (Grants Portal) until after the RPA filing deadline.  The Applicant submitted a first appeal, stating that it submitted the RPA to the Grantee following an applicant briefing, but was delayed in submitting a completed application due to high workload.  The Grantee argued that the RPA was timely but constraints from Grants Portal did not allow submission without all PNP documents.  The FEMA Region V Regional Administrator denied the first appeal, finding that neither the Applicant nor the Grantee demonstrated an extenuating circumstance beyond either’s control that prevented the timely submission of the Applicant’s completed RPA.  The Applicant submitted a second appeal, reiterating its previous arguments.

Authorities and Second Appeals

  • Stafford Act § 406(a)(3).
  • 44 C.F.R. § 206.202(b), (c), (f).
  • PAPPG, at 131.
  • Kapoho Kai Water Assoc., FEMA-4366-DR-HI.

Headnotes

  • Grantees are responsible for ensuring that potential applicants are aware of available Public Assistance and timely submitting documents necessary for the award of grants.  FEMA may extend submission deadlines if the grantee requests an extension and provides justification, based on extenuating circumstances beyond the grantee’s or applicant’s control, in writing.
    • Here, the Grantee did not submit the Applicant’s RPA within the regulatory deadline.  The Grantee did not request an extension of the deadline, but even if it had, neither the Grantee nor the Applicant has demonstrated that extenuating circumstances beyond its control prevented timely submission of the RPA.

Conclusion

FEMA finds that the Grantee did not submit the Applicant’s RPA within the regulatory deadline and that neither the Grantee nor the Applicant has demonstrated that extenuating circumstances beyond its control prevented timely submission of the RPA.  Therefore, this appeal is denied.

 

Appeal Letter

Sima S. Merick

Executive Director

Ohio Emergency Management Agency

2855 W. Dublin-Granville Road

Columbus, OH 43235-2206

 

Re:       Second Appeal – Jackson County Water Company, Inc., FEMA-4424-DR-OH, RPA – Request for Public Assistance, Time Limitations/Extensions

 

Dear Ms. Merick:

This is in response to a letter from your office dated April 23, 2021, which transmitted the referenced second appeal on behalf of Jackson County Water Company, Inc. (Applicant).  The Applicant is appealing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) denial of its Request for Public Assistance (RPA).

As explained in the enclosed analysis, I have determined that the Ohio Emergency Management Agency (Grantee) did not submit the Applicant’s RPA within the regulatory deadline and that neither the Grantee nor the Applicant has demonstrated that extenuating circumstances beyond its control prevented timely submission of the RPA.  Therefore, this appeal is denied.

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

 

                                                                          Sincerely,

                                                                              /S/

                                                                           Ana Montero

                                                                          Division Director

                                                                          Public Assistance Division

                                                                       

cc:  Kevin M. Slilgh, Sr.  

Acting Regional Administrator

FEMA Region V

Appeal Analysis

Background

From February 5 to 13, 2019, severe storms, flooding, and landslides caused damage throughout Ohio.  The President declared a major disaster on April 8, 2019.  Therefore, the regulatory deadline for the Ohio Emergency Management Agency (Grantee) to submit applicant Requests for Public Assistance (RPA) was 30 days later on May 8, 2019.  Jackson County Water Company, Inc. (Applicant) is a Private Nonprofit organization (PNP) that operates a water utility in Jackson County.  On May 8, 2019, the date of the RPA deadline, the Grantee sent FEMA an email stating that it had received an RPA from the Applicant, but that it was still working with the Applicant to obtain documentation to meet the PNP RPA requirements. 

On November 8, 2019, the Grantee submitted the Applicant’s RPA to FEMA by email, stating that it received the Applicant’s RPA on April 22, 2019, but did not upload it to FEMA’s grants management database (Grants Portal) because it did not have all the required PNP documentation.  The Grantee provided the Applicant’s RPA dated April 22, 2019, PNP Facility Questionnaire, the Applicant’s by-laws, PNP Certificate of Continued Existence, and a map of damages.  On the same day, FEMA sent an email Request for Information (RFI) to the Grantee asking for justification for the six-month delay in submitting the RPA.  The Grantee did not respond.

On March 30, 2020, FEMA denied the Applicant’s request because it did not submit a complete PNP RPA request to Grants Portal and did not submit the request until more than six months past the deadline to apply for Public Assistance (PA).

 

First Appeal

On June 30, 2020, the Applicant appealed, stating that it submitted the RPA to the Grantee following an applicant briefing, but was delayed in submitting a completed application due to high workload.  The Applicant requested that FEMA reconsider its denial due to the large impact the disaster-related repairs had on its budget.  The Grantee supported the first appeal in an August 24, 2020 letter, explaining that the Applicant submitted the RPA on April 22, 2019.  The Grantee made an organizational profile for the Applicant in Grants Portal on April 25, 2019, and uploaded its tax exemption document on May 2, 2019, but it could not submit the RPA because it did not have the Applicant’s by-laws or PNP Facility Questionnaire.  The Grantee argued that the RPA was timely but constraints from Grants Portal did not allow submission without all PNP documents and noted that the Applicant had previously been an eligible PA applicant.

On November 5, 2020, FEMA issued an RFI asking the Applicant to provide information or documentation demonstrating extenuating circumstances beyond its or the Grantee’s control to justify the late RPA, and to specify the amount in dispute.  The Applicant replied stating that there was no dispute regarding the amount at issue.  Instead, the Applicant detailed the timeline of repairs, disaster and non-disaster related repair work, and stated that the initial, incomplete submission was timely.  However, due to high workload and an oversight, it was late in submitting the outstanding documentation until it was requested by the Grantee.

In a first appeal decision dated February 23, 2021, the FEMA Region V Regional Administrator (RA) denied the appeal, finding that neither the Applicant nor the Grantee demonstrated an extenuating circumstance beyond either’s control that prevented the timely submission of the Applicant’s completed RPA.  FEMA explained that the completed RPA was six months late, and FEMA Form 90-49 expressly states that PNPs must attach copies of their Tax Exemption Certificate and charter or by-laws to complete the RPA.  Further, the delay in submittal due to hardships or excessive workload does not constitute extenuating circumstance beyond its control to warrant an extension of the RPA deadline.

 

Second Appeal

The Applicant submitted a second appeal on April 5, 2021, reiterating its previous arguments.  In an April 23, 2021 letter, the Grantee forwarded the appeal supporting the Applicant’s request.

 

Discussion

Section 406 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act authorizes FEMA to grant funds to PNP entities for critical services.[1]  Grantees serve as the grant administrator for funding administered under the PA Program.[2]  Grantee responsibilities include ensuring that all potential applicants are aware of available PA and submitting documents necessary for the award of grants.[3]  FEMA’s Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide lists the RPA documentation requirements for PNP applicants.[4]  Grantees must submit an applicant’s completed RPA to the FEMA RA within 30 days after designation of the area where the damage occurred.[5]  FEMA may extend this deadline if the grantee requests an extension and provides justification for it in writing.[6]  The justification must be based on extenuating circumstances beyond the grantee’s or applicant’s control.[7] 

FEMA’s RPA application states that PNPs must attach copies of their Tax Exemption Certificate and charter or by-laws.[8]  Here, the Applicant submitted an incomplete RPA to the Grantee prior to the 30-day RPA deadline.  The Grantee did not submit the Applicant’s completed RPA to FEMA within the deadline, but did so after the deadline passed.  The Grantee did not request an extension of the deadline, nor did it provide justification for the delay.  The Applicant explains that the reason for the delay was high workload and oversight.  However, this justification does not constitute extenuating circumstances beyond its control that would justify an extension of the RPA deadline.[9]

 

Conclusion

FEMA finds that the Grantee did not submit the Applicant’s RPA within the regulatory deadline and that neither the Grantee nor the Applicant demonstrated that extenuating circumstances beyond either’s control prevented timely submission of the RPA.  Therefore, this appeal is denied.

 

[1] Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, as amended, § 406(a)(3), 42 U.S.C. § 5172 (2018).

[2] Title 44 Code of Federal Regulations (44 C.F.R.) § 206.202(b) (2018).

[3] Id.

[4] Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide, FP 104-009-2, at 131 (Apr. 2018).

[5] 44 C.F.R. § 206.202(c).

[6] Id, at § 206.202(f)(2).

[7] Id.

[8] FEMA Form 0090-49, Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency, Request for Public Assistance, OMB Control No. 1660-0017, at 1 (expired Dec. 31, 2019).

[9] See FEMA Second Appeal Analysis, Kapoho Kai Water Association, FEMA-4366-DR-HI, at 3 (Nov. 6, 2020) (finding that hardships the Applicant encountered due to the effects of the disaster do not constitute extenuating circumstances beyond the Applicant’s or the Grantee’s control to warrant an extension of the regulatory RPA deadline).

Last updated July 13, 2021